Schoolbag weight to be less than 15pc of student’s

Updated November 10, 2019

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The elementary and secondary education department has decided that the schoolbag’s weight will not be more than 15 per cent of the student’s. — AFP/File
The elementary and secondary education department has decided that the schoolbag’s weight will not be more than 15 per cent of the student’s. — AFP/File

PESHAWAR: The elementary and secondary education department has decided that the schoolbag’s weight will not be more than 15 per cent of the student’s.

The decision is part of the proposed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa School Bags Act, 2019, drafted by the department.

The proposed law will be placed before the provincial cabinet for approval to be followed by tabling in the provincial assembly.

A Peshawar High Court bench headed by Justice Qaiser Rasheed had directed the education department this summer to legislate on the schoolbag weight before the conclusion of summer vacation.

The proposed law is meant for all educational institutions, including government, private, seminary, autonomous, semi-autonomous and others functioning in the province.

The government will de-recognise the schools found to be violating the law.

Move part of bill drafted by education dept

Section 7 of the draft law says the principals and teachers of such public sector schools will be dealt with under the relevant rules, while private schools will be fined up to Rs200,000 each.

Section 4(1) of the law says every school shall provide lockers and cupboards of such size in the school up to 10th grade to enable the student to keep books, notebooks and other curricular and co-curricular equipment.

According to the proposed legislation, every principal or headmaster will channelise the scheme of study, re-introduce traditional metal and wooden slate (takhti) for rough work, while every teacher will inform students up to 8th grade in advance about books and notebooks/workbooks to be brought to school on a particular day.

Under Section 5 of the law, every school will launch awareness campaigns, issues guidelines and instructions prescribing dimensions and fabric for school bags for students up to a particular class in the prescribed manner.

The directorate of curricula, directorate of elementary and secondary education, and textbook board will integrate some subject/courses to reduce weight of books, notebooks and workbooks using lighter but high quality papers and revisit scheme of study to reduce weight.

The independent monitoring unit and directorate of education will ensure compliance with the law by government schools, while the private schools regulatory authority will make privately-owned educational institutions follow the law.

The schoolbag weight has been fixed keeping in view the international standards.

Schedule 1 of the law declares, “the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association suggested that the schoolbag’s weight should not exceed 15 per cent of a child’s body weight.”

The Peshawar High Court had ordered the schoolbag weight legislation while hearing a petition of lawyer Moamer Jamil, who had said the carrying of heavy bags badly affected the physical and mental growth of students but the government had turned a blind eye to the critical issue.

The petitioner had sought the court’s orders for the government to fix schoolbag weight limit through legislation in light of the age and weight of students. He had insisted that a deputy medical superintendent of the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, Karachi, had written to different schools of the city warning that heavy schoolbags could cause neck, back and shoulder pain among students.

Published in Dawn, November 10th, 2019