Govt to fix schoolbag weight by legislation, PHC told

Updated October 16, 2019

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The education department has drafted a bill to fix weight limit for  schoolbags that will be tabled in the assembly soon, the Peshawar High  Court was told on Tuesday. — APP/File
The education department has drafted a bill to fix weight limit for schoolbags that will be tabled in the assembly soon, the Peshawar High Court was told on Tuesday. — APP/File

PESHAWAR: The education department has drafted a bill to fix weight limit for schoolbags that will be tabled in the assembly soon, the Peshawar High Court was told on Tuesday.

Additional advocate general Syed Sikandar Hayat Shah told a bench consisting of Justice Qaiser Rasheed and Justice Mohammad Naeem Anwar that the proposed legislation had been vetted by the law department and would be referred to the provincial assembly for approval after the cabinet’s nod.

The AAG and deputy secretary for the elementary and secondary education department Khursheed Khan also produced a copy of the proposed law saying the government is striving for the early approval and enforcement of the bill.

Official says bill to be tabled in PA soon after cabinet’s nod

The bench ordered the officials to ensure that a summary for the bill should be approved by the cabinet in the next couple of days and it should be tabled in the assembly for its early approval.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by lawyer Moamer Jamil, who had contended that the carrying of heavy schoolbags badly affected physical and mental growth of students but the government had turned a blind eye to the important issue.

A high court bench headed by Justice Qaiser Rasheed had taken an exception to the carrying of heavy bags by students, including small children, and had ordered the government in Apr this year to make and enforce a law within four months to fix weight limit for schoolbags.

The petitioner sought the court’s orders for the government to legislate to fix weight limit for schoolbags in light of the age and weight of students.

AAG Sikandar Hayat told the bench that in the draft legislation, the government had categorised weight limit for different school classes and that the maximum permissible weight limit for schoolbags would be six or seven kilogrammes.

He said classes would be divided in different categories with each of them having different permissible bag weight limit.

Justice Qaiser Rasheed observed that in several of the cases, minor students had to walk for long distances carrying heavy schoolbags.

The petitioner said a deputy medical superintendent of the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, Karachi, had sent a letter to different educational institutions in the provincial capital wherein he had warned that the carrying of heavy bags could cause neck, back and shoulder pain to children.

Apart from that letter, he also referred to different research studies in support of his contentions and said it would be appropriate to fix the maximum limit for the weight of schoolbags to below 10 per cent of the child’s body weight.

During one of the hearings, the chief secretary, Saleem Khan, had turned up and told the court that he had ordered the constitution of a committee of experts that should put forward its proposals to the government for addressing the issue.

He had assured the court that the government would devise a mechanism for all educational institutions of the province for fixing weight limit for schoolbags to the relief of students.

Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2019