The world has seen prolonged closure of schools owing to the coronavirus pandemic and as children are deprived of the physical classroom spaces and are constrained indoors for an unprecedented period, there is good news that is coming to them from the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Education has come out with a new School Bag Policy 2020 under which children unto class 2 will not be given any homework by the schools because they are too young to be able to sit at one place for too long and that the weight of their bags shouldn’t exceed two kilograms.
The decision of the Education Ministry upholds the ideas expressed in the newly released National Education Policy(NEP) released in July.
The NEP suggests that there must be a concrete attention on reduction of homework especially for the youngest of the kids and a reduction in the weight of school bags and the new decision truly falls in line.
It had been shared with all the state level governments on November 24 and a circular was also sent to them saying that the new decision should be implemented right away.
The circular says,“It is requested to kindly adopt relevant suggestions of the School Bag Policy and the NEP 2020 and ensure the implementation in your jurisdiction. The compliance report in this regard may be shared with this department( the ministry).”
Why it is Important to Reduce the Weight of Children’s School Bags
The policy is an important intervention in the domain of school education and while agreeing to various studies and surveys that show that the burden of textbooks is indeed extremely high on students and must be reduced, it advises educational curriculums to reduce burden and become more student friendly in their approach.
One of the things that has been laid a primary emphasis on is regarding the reduction of the weight of children’s school bags and making it a maximum of 10% of the child’s body weight and a detailed permissible weight list has been given for each class.
The rule suggests that the weight of a student’s bag in class 1 and 2 should not be more than 2.2 kgs as the average body weight of the child in that age group is between 16-22 kgs.
Similarly the maximum weight of the school bag for children in the 11th and 12th standard has been recommended at 3.5-5 kgs as the average body weight for the age group is between 35-50 kgs.
The new policy document clearly dictates which class shall allow what kind of weight for the school bag for the student and the school authorities are required to strictly adhere to the new rules.
How Much Homework is Too Much Homework?
The new policy document also has a lot to say on the amount of homework that the school is allowed to give to a child and expect him/her to do. The new policy document suggests that a child should only do two hours of homework per day from class 9-12. The policy clearly talks about how much homework can be given to students in a particular class and says that children will not be given any homework up to class 2 and children from 9-12 will only be given homework that can be completed in 2 hours.
The document says,“As children in classes 1 and 2 are too small to sit for long hours doing homework, they need not be given any kind of homework. Rather they need to be encouraged in the class to speak about how they spent their evening at hime, games they played, foods they eat, etc.”
The document tells us that children in class 3, 4 and 5 should be given homework that can be completed in a maximum of two hours per week and the teacher should encourage them to work on aspects closer to their lives as part of the homework that is issued to them on a daily basis. From class 6-8, the child is suggested to do homework for a maximum of 1 hour per day.
The document says,“At this stage, children develop the habit of sitting longer with concentration, so they can be given home works such as writing a story, essay or article on contemporary issues, writing an article abbey the problems of the locality, measures for saving electricity and petrol, among other things.”
The document also pays extreme attention to the children’s interest and enthusiasm towards learning and the need for the teacher to give in her creative best to thinking and generating interesting homework.
For the students of the secondary and higher secondary levels, a maximum of two hours of doing homework per day has been recommended.
The circular has suggested that children be given homework that is not only less burdensome for them but also more interesting and engaging. Emphasis has also been given to interdisciplinary engagement with subjects, project work and creative assignments that resonate with the student’s own liking.
It is hoped that with these creative and critical changes, the lives of students who are presently terribly burdened by our schools will reduce and they will once again find themselves in and engaging and satisfying educational milieu.