While institutes such as R N Podar in Santacruz have turned to flipped learning, which requires students to view video lessons at home and use classroom time for hands-on learning, others like Juhu’s Jamnabai Narsee School have told students to carry lunch and snacks in sealed pouches and use cloth jholas.
However, not all schools can afford the luxury of introducing video lessons or providing lockers. “We get textbooks from the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, which are kept in the school library. We are using those and asking two students to share textbooks in class,” said Veena Donwalkar, principal, Chhatrapati Shivaji Vidyalaya in Dharavi. Mazgaon’s St Mary’s ICSE has asked its students not to carry any books for tuitions.
Schools are conducting meetings with parents to inform them about the steps they are taking to ensure to take the burden. “We have been informed that starting next year, some of the periods in school will be combined and that we will be using perforated notebooks so that students need to carry only one of it to school and maintain files back home,” said a parent from Arya Vidya Mandir, Bandra west.
Experts caution that children stand a strong risk of developing back problems in the long term, even abnormalities in posture, if they persistently lug around school bags weighing more than 15% of their body weight. Orthopaedic and spine out-patient departments in the city now routinely see children with complaints of painful backs, necks and shoulders.
“Heavy school bags are a common cause of chronic backache in children. Ideally, the weight of a school bag should not exceed 10-15% of the child’s body weight,” said Dr Raju Khubchandani, in-charge of paediatric rheumatology clinic at Jaslok Hospital.