Experts’ group to cut school bag weight formed, court told

Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) informed the Madras High Court on Monday that an Experts’ Group has been constituted to formulate a draft policy on reducing the weight of school bags in proportion to the age and average weight of children. Justice N. Kirubakaran was told that the Centre had decided to implement his May 29 judgement on the issue in letter and spirit. The MHRD had issued an order on October 5 to formulate a policy on schoolbags on the lines of Children School Bags (Limitation on Weight) Bill of 2006, which never turned into a law. Disposing of a writ petition filed by advocate M. Purushothaman, the judge had directed the Centre to formulate a nationwide policy forthwith on the permitted weight of backpacks that could be carried by schoolchildren, observing that “neither are children weightlifters nor school bags load containers.” Reporting compliance, Assistant Solicitor General (ASG) G. Karthikeyan told the court on Monday that MHRD was keen on formulating a draft policy within a month and professor Ranjana Arora of the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) had been named as the convenor of the Expert Group. S. Vijaya Kumar, Joint Commissioner (Academics) of Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan; A.N. Ramachandra, Joint Commissioner (Academics) of Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti; and Joseph Emmanuel, Director (Academics) of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) would be members of the group. A decision had also been taken to include representatives of the education departments of Maharashtra and Telangana as additional members of the group, since the two States already had a policy in place stipulating that the weight of a schoolbag should not exceed 10% of the weight of the student. Government Orders issued in Maharashtra and Telangana were placed before the court for its perusal. The ASG said Maharashtra, while deciding the weight of the schoolbag, had considered the weight of books, geometry box, stationery, lunch box and even the water bottle.

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