Delhi schools experiment with ‘bagless day’ for students to promote extra-curricular activities

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    New Delhi, March 12: School bags have turned into "burden" for most students across the country. Thanks to a load of books in their bags most school children in the age group of 7-13 years face the risk of backaches and even hunchbacks. A survey conducted by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) in 2016 noted that over 88 per cent of Indian school children in the age group of 7-13 years carry more than 45 per cent of their weight on their backs including art kit, skates, taekwondo equipment, a swim bag and cricket kit every alternate day leading to serious spinal damage and irreversible back problems. On several occasions, parents and activists in various parts of the country have demanded a ban on heavy bags for young children.

    It seems Delhi has found a solution to do away with heavy school bags, at least once a week. That is some music to the ears of the school-going children. Recently, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation has introduced a once-a-week "bagless day" in its schools. The reason behind the decision to go bagless once-a-week is to promote extra-curricular activities among the children who mostly lead a sedate lifestyle because of massive urbanisation.

    school bags

    SDMC mayor Kamaljeet Sehrawat said one day in a week will be reserved for activities such as quiz, puzzle-solving and sports when students will not have to bring their bags to school, reported The Times of India. The idea of the bagless day is a part of smart learning programme to improve the performance of the students.

    "Under the smart learning programme, we have introduced the concept of a bagless day when students will be encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities. This is an attempt to provide a different module of learning for better performance," Sehrawat was quoted as saying by the English daily.

    Sehrawat stated that the decision regarding the kind of activities to be a part of the bagless day is yet to be made. The bagless day will be introduced from the upcoming academic session. Around 3 lakh students are studying in 581 schools under Delhi's south corporation. Inspired by the idea, schools in north and east corporations are also likely to go bagless a day every week.

    "Our focus is mainly on improving the quality of education at the SDMC schools. There is a dip in enrollment due to mushrooming of public schools but in the few schools where we have introduced smart learning for children, we have received a good response," Sehrawat said.

    The decision to go bagless a day every week has been welcomed by children and their parents. A mother of two school-going children in the national capital, Mita Kapoor, stated that it's criminal to force children to carry such heavy school bags. "We don't like seeing our children carry such heavy bags. But we are helpless. We want the government to strictly implement laws to put an end to the custom of carrying heavy school bags by children," she said.

    Kapoor, an entrepreneur, added that the initiative for a bagless day in schools will go a long way in doing away with heavy school bags. As per the Children's School Bag Act 2006, a schoolbag should not weigh more than 10 per cent of a child's weight. If reports are to be believed, hardly any schools are following the rule.

    With Delhi schools taking a lead in going bagless a day every week, schools across the country can take a cue from it to make students' life less burdensome.

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