Maharashtra government on Wednesday told the Bombay High Court that most schools in the state had implemented its circular issuing guidelines on reduction of weight of school bags carried by students.
This was stated by government pleader Purnima Kantharia before a bench of Justices Abhay Oka and Amjad Sayed.
The high court was hearing a PIL filed by social activist Swati Patil on the rising weight of school bags and its “adverse” impact on children’s health.
On going through a report submitted by the government on inspection made by officials of 17,000 schools in the state, the bench said it appears that substantial compliance of the circular had been made by schools.
The report said that 87 per cent of directives in the circular had been implemented by schools across the state.
However, the bench noted, if it is brought to Patil’s notice that some schools have not implemented the circular, she can draw the attention of the government officials concerned.
The matter has been posted to October 10 for further compliance.
As per the directives of the high court, the state had issued a circular to the schools on the recommendations of a committee on the reduction of weight of the school bags to be carried by students to the school.
The state had informed the high court earlier that it had also fixed the responsibility on principals and school management to follow the circular and would take action against those not obeying this rule.
The government had urged for disposal of the petition early this year but the high court said it would prefer to keep the matter pending as it wanted to see how the policy on reduction of weight of bags was implemented in the schools and whether action was being taken against those not following this rule.
According to the government pleader, there are 1.06 lakh schools in the state and the circular is binding on them.
Soon after the petition was filed, government had
appointed a committee which submitted several recommendations.
As per the panel’s report, students are lugging school bags 20-30 per cent heavier than what children of their age should carry.
“Because of this, around 60 per cent students below the age of 10 suffer from orthopaedic as well as stress-induced ailments,” it said.
The committee recommended that one book should be used for three months for each subject and the textbook weight can be reduced by using paper weighing lighter and no hardcover.
Further, it suggested use of e-classroom, audio-visual technology and other modern means for teaching.