Bengaluru, March 5, 2020: School students in Karnataka will now have two Saturdays a month where they will not have to carry bags to school, the Chief Minister of Karnataka announced during the state budget speech for 2020-21 on Thursday.
“By making 2 Saturdays a month as bag-free days, ’Sambhrama Shanivara’ will be observed with the objective of creating a joyful learning experience by reducing the burden of text books,” the budget states. “The main purpose of such days is to create awareness, by means of activities, on topics that are necessary for students to be ideal citizens.”
Dakshina Kannada was the first district in Karnataka to implement the program and re-launched it for the 2019-20 academic year. In the model, while some students observed a no-bag day weekly, others did it bi-monthly. The district has pioneered the model for over two years now in private as well as state board schools for students studying in class 1 up to 10.
On the days students do not bring bags, they reportedly engage in practical activities pertaining to their subjects and syllabi, use the library and laboratory, and are taught lessons by other means such as art and dance.
The state of Karnataka itself had discussed and mooted the plan earlier in 2018. The Department of Public Instruction had then decided to implement a ‘no-bag day’ once a week after campaigns by parents and NGOs against the heavy load of bags on children. However, save in Dakshina Kannada, it was not uniformly implemented.
The ‘no-bag day’ policy is already in place in some other states such as Manipur. Odisha also announced the same recently for class 1 to 5 students, and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy also suggested last year that students be exempted from carrying a bag and not have regular class every Saturday from the new academic year that started in June 2019.
The Ministry of Human Resource Development had also directed states in 2018 to regulate the weight of school bags. It fixed the weight limit for school bags at 1.5 kg for classes 1 and 2, 2.3 kg for classes 3 to 5, 4 kg for classes 6 and 7, 4.5 kg for classes 8 and 9, and 5 kg for class 10 students. The ministry also asked states and union territories to frame guidelines on the same, and for not allotting homework to children studying in classes 1 and 2, and in language, maths and environmental science (EVS) for students of class 3 to 5. The Centre had issued guidelines on reducing schoolbag weight in 2015 too, as had CBSE in 2016.
Apart from the ‘Sambhrama Shanivara’, the Karnataka budget announcements for education included, among others, a provision for three government schools to be adopted and developed under the aegis of the legislators area development programme in their respective constituencies. Further, 400 Urdu schools will, in the coming academic year, have English medium sections as well, for which Rs 1 crore has been allocated.
Inputs from thenewsminute.com