Posted On Monday, September 02, 2013 at 09:48:58 AM
|Nearly 22 per cent of schoolchildren in the city suffer from back pain as
a result of carrying heavy bags
Their earlier Public Interest Litigation (PIL) resulted in the regulation of junk food being sold around schools. Now, Delhi-based NGO Uday Foundation is back with another campaign to make the lives of schoolchildren a little easier. Called ‘Save my back’, the campaign aims at ensuring that bags carried by students aren’t heavy enough to cause back problems.
The NGO plans to make the Human Resource Development Ministry (HRD) enact laws that will ensure that a child’s bag is no more than 10 per cent of his/her body weight. Research conducted by a city doctor earlier this year found that 21.7 per cent of schoolchildren suffered from back pain as a result of carrying heavy bags. Worse, 11 per cent were prescribed pain killers and antiinflammatory medicines for the pain.
“Children have to climb to their classrooms on the second or third floor with their bags which is a health hazard for them in the long run,” said Rahul Verma, founder of Uday Foundation. The foundation had filed a PIL in the Delhi High Court (HC) in 2010 to ban the sale of junk food within 500 yards of schools, subsequent to which the HC ordered the Central government to formulate guidelines to regulate the same.
In 1993, the Yashpal Committee formed by the government had asked NCERT to rework the school syllabus in order to reduce the load of books. The Central Board of Secondary Education has also framed guidelines for its affiliated schools to reduce backpack loads. However implementation of the said recommendations is yet to come about.
“Our aim is to ensure that schools provide lockers so that children can keep books and sporting equipment. We also want an act to penalise schools if they violate these rules,” Verma added. Verma has filed an online petition on change.org to the HRD Ministry which requires 10,000 signatures.
“We hope we can make the ministry take action. If nothing happens, we will file a PIL,” Verma said. Doctors agree that students are being physically burdened with heavier bags. “Orthopaedics are increasingly observing this issue, but no authority is taking the initiative to rectify it.
Carrying heavy bags is harmful for children,” said Dr Nitin Bhagali, head of the Hospital Association at the Indian Medical Association. Teachers are of the opinion that there is no need to wait for government action. “We have cupboards where children can store some of their books.
However, there are schools which ask children to bring their workbooks and many reference books. Parents should find out if so many books are required. If they are, school authorities should provide storage space,” said Nanda Mane, principal, Nutan Marathi Vidyalaya School.
“There is a timetable which ensures that students do not have to bring all their books at once. Why should schools wait till there is a crackdown? More than the HRD Ministry, school authorities and parents should get involved,” said Binita Poonekar, principal, Army Public School, Kirkee.
►►► Schools need lockers for children to keep their books. We also want an act to penalise schools if they violate these rules
- Rahul Verma founder, Uday Foundation