For a while now, students from Classes 1 to 7 have been using a combination of textbooks and notebooks with one blank page provided after every lesson for writing notes; an initiative introduced in September 2022 by state school education minister Deepak Kesarkar with a view to reducing the weight of students’ school bags. However, just one page after every lesson to write notes has proved inadequate, and students and parents are now purchasing notebooks in addition to these new-format books to compensate for the lack of space. Consequently, this initiative, like the ones before it, has resulted in little or no reduction in the weight of students’ school bags.
Vrunda Chavan, a parent, said, “We have started preparing for my son’s new academic year. Along with Balbharti textbooks, we have also bought new notebooks for each subject. He is now in Class 4 and has eight periods daily at school wherein he has to carry a minimum of eight textbooks and eight notebooks along with other stationery items. The weight of his school bag is over 2 kg and many a time, he complains about shoulder pain. Despite the introduction of these new textbooks with one rough page after every lesson, the weight of the school bag has not reduced.”
Since the last many years, the state government has been providing free textbooks to students from schools run by municipal corporations, Zilla Parishads and the government. However, several students cannot even afford to buy notebooks due to which they lag behind in their studies. Many a time, students from below poverty line (BPL) families have to wait for NGOs and other organisations to donate these books. Hence, the state government started this initiative to ensure that all children get the right to education. While it is a first-of-its-kind initiative, it hasn’t made a significant dent in the weight of students’ school bags.
Another parent Umesh Rathi said, “We have three children and have to get books for each of them. The issue of the weight of school bags is an old one and it can be only resolved if students are given tablet phones with all the textbooks in them. Only then will they need to carry just notebooks to write down notes just like the Delhi schools have done.”
Kesarkar said, “We are always carrying out new experiments and coming up with new initiatives to reduce the weight of students’ school bags. This is the first step to add one page in the textbooks. In future, we will be coming up with more initiatives to reduce the weight of school bags. We might give tablets to our students as well.”