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PHC asks govt to fix weight limit for schoolbags

Updated April 11, 2019

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The court observes that the carrying of heavy schoolbags badly affected physical and mental growth of students. — AFP/File
The court observes that the carrying of heavy schoolbags badly affected physical and mental growth of students. — AFP/File

PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Wednesday expressed displeasure at the heavy bags carried by schoolchildren and directed the government to enforce a law within four months to fix weight limit for such bags.

Justice Qaiser Rasheed and Justice Mohammad Ibrahim Khan observed that the carrying of heavy schoolbags badly affected physical and mental growth of students but the government had turned a blind eye to such an important issue.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by local lawyer Moammar Jalal seeking the court’s orders for the provincial government to legislate on the issue to fix weight limit for schoolbags keeping in view the age and weight of students.

Sets four months deadline for legislation about it

Provincial chief secretary Saleem Khan assured the court that the government intended to introduce an effective law to address the issue as that couldn’t happen by issuing an executive order only.

He said the government needed time for making that legislation.

The bench adjoined proceedings until Jul 2 asking the government to update it on the matter on the next hearing.

The bench ruled that the government should introduce the required law within four months after consulting all stakeholders.

The petitioner contended that students carried heavy bags weighing from two kilogrammes to 15kg and thus, suffering from different health issues.

He said the deputy medical superintendent of Abbasi Shaheed Hospital in Karachi had sent a letter to different schools warning that heavy bags could cause neck, back and shoulder pains among students.

The petitioner said a schoolbag shouldn’t weigh more than 10 percent of the child’s body weight.

Chief secretary Saleem Khan said he had taken notice of the issue and issued directives earlier in the day ordering the formation a committee of experts to suggest ways to address the issue.

He said mostly the problem was related to private schools as the students of government schools didn’t have books in large numbers.

Mr Saleem, however, said the government would devise mechanism on the matter for all educational institutions.

Justice Qaiser Rasheed observed that in several cases, minor students had to walk long distances carrying heavy bags.

He added that private schools had been stressing out parents by asking students to buy more and more expensive books.

Provincial advocate general Abdul Lateef Yousafzai said the government needed time for enact a flawless law to address the issue.

He added that the government had also been examining the relevant laws enforced in different countries, including Sri Lanka.

Higher education secretary Manzoor Ahmad and elementary and secondary education secretary Arshad Khan also appeared before the bench.

The bench observed that the problem should have been resolved by the government but as the government was indifferent, the court had to intervene.

Published in Dawn, April 11th, 2019