An Idea that will take The Weight Out of School Bags


Innovative idea will mean students will need to carry just one slender book covering all subjects of a term.

An idea that will take the weight out of school bags

Abhijeet Panse with his model textbooks

The state Cabinet, led by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, will next week look into a proposal that aims to drastically reduce the weight of children’s school bags. According to the proposal, mooted by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) functionary Abhijeet Panse, the textbooks should be divided into four units of the academic year, and just one textbook will include all the subjects.

For instance, the portions of all the subjects to be taught between June and August will form one textbook. Similarly, the second academic unit will have a separate textbook, which effectively means just four textbooks will cover all the subjects throughout the year.

Panse suggested the proposal to Fadnavis yesterday, following which it was decided to take it up during the Cabinet meeting next week. Mumbai Mirror reported on Tuesday that social worker Swati Patil, a mother of three, has filed a public interest litigation in the high court, demanding measures be taken to reduce the children’s burden (Social worker’s war against bulky school bags, MM, January 13).

Presently, school students have multiple subjects, and each subject has a textbook, a workbook and a notebook, resulting in the students carrying nearly 18-20 books to school every day.

Panse said that he has come up with the idea of printing textbooks on a unit-oriented format after consulting with teachers and principals. “There are four units in the academic year and there is no need for the students to carry the entire year’s syllabus to school every day. It is just a different way of binding the books which will greatly reduce the weight of the school bags,” he said. Panse has printed the textbooks in four parts each containing the portion for all six subjects for a single unit for Class III and IV.

The proposed model also aims to financially help the parents of underprivileged children. Panse said that instead of shelling out money for the entire year’s textbooks, parents can span their expenditures over the course of the year. Principals, however, differed on the proposal.

Swapna Trailokya, principal of Parle Tilak Vidyamandir in Vile Parle, called it a feasible model. “Having to carry a single book instead of six would definitely reduce the weight of the bags and will be easy on the students. But the parents also have to be told to not send the tuition books in the school bags which greatly adds to the weight of the bag,” Trailokya said, adding that this model would help teachers to focus on specific portions.

Anjana Prakash, principal of Hansraj Morarji Public School in Andheri, however, did not find the model feasible. “I don’t think having a single book for all the subjects for each unit will help. By the second or third unit, out of long-term habit, the students will bring all the books to school which makes the whole thing pointless,” Prakash said. Parents too have expressed mixed feelings about the implementation of such model. Arundhati Chavan, chairman of the Parents-Teachers Association, said that errors are known to happen in new systems introduced by the government. “A pilot survey must be done before implementing this model in the schools,” she said.

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