Kids in State Carry 15kg School Bags

BENGALURU:  Know how much a school bag weighs? At least 10 kg. And that’s way above what a child can safely carry.

An expert committee constituted by the State Education Research and Training Department (DSERT) visited schools across the city and conducted a survey. Its findings show a widespread lack of concern for children’s spinal health.

Eight teams with three members each checked the weight of bags of children in schools affiliated to various boards. Children studying in CBSE and ICSE schools carry up to 15 kg in some cases, experts said.

A member of the committee formed to study the problem said, “We are shocked by how bad the problem is.” Children in Class 1, the committee found, carry bags whose weight is equal to their body weight. Sharing his experiences, V P Niranjanaradhya, a committee member, said, “We checked bags of students from Classes 1 to 10. In schools with Classes 11 and 12,  we checked bags there as well. The weight is unbelievable.”

The teams weighed the bags with books and lunch boxes, and then emptied the bags and checked them again

“Water bottles, lunch boxes and geometry boxes are common,” explained Niranjanaradhya. “They add to the weight of the bag which also carries textbooks, class-work books, and homework books.”

The committee is documenting its observations and preparing a report, which it hopes to submit to the government by the second week of January. The government is likely to fix class-wise weight recommendations for school bags.

“Scientifically, the weight of a bag should not exceed 10 to 15 percent of the body weight of a child. During our interaction with parents, teachers and students, we heard many complaints about how the bags cause pain the back and shoulder,” said another member.

New Rules Soon: The government constituted the committee with the objective of reducing the weight of school bags from 2016-17. Once the committee submits its report, the government will frame guidelines for schools affiliated to all boards.

What Doctors Say Dr Nishanth Sadashiva, assistant professor of nuero surgery, Nimhans: “When a kid carries too much weight on its back, its physical activity comes down. The child could suffer severe sprains, fatigue, and if it develops congenital spinal anomaly and torticollis (bent neck), the problem gets worse.”

Dr Anand Alladi, paediatric surgeon, Victoria Hospital: “In case the child is going by bus and not carrying the bag on the back all the time, it is okay. But carrying so much weight every day on the back is not advisable and causes many problems. We cannot generalise about bag weight as we must take into consideration the build of the child. But on the whole, 10 to 15 kg is okay for Class 11 and 12 but not for lower classes.”

“The problem is confined to schools affiliated to CBSE and ICSE. Government schools and private schools following the state syllabus do not encourage heavy bags. The international standard for children’s backpacks is 12 to 15 percent of the body weight, and the experts should look at the larger picture.”

D Shashikumar, General Secretary, Karnataka Associated Management of English Schools (KAMS)

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