No homework or heavy school bags to reduce pressure on kids

As a part of the resolution to reduce the academic burden on students, the Ministry of Human Resource Development has recently issued directives to cut down the weight of school bags and homework, especially for the lower grades. The Union HRD Minister, Prakash Javadekar announced a ban on assigning homework to grades 1 and 2. The curricula of these grades will have Language and Mathematics only. For grades 3-5, the syllabus will contain Language, Mathematics and EVS. Furthermore, the government has also declared the following upper limits for the weight of school bags according to grades:

NCERT has already proposed a reduction of the syllabus by 50% from the upcoming academic year 2019-20 in an attempt to give students time for the development of life skills and sports. The mandate on cutting down of homework further aims to reduce the stress of school children and augment the habit of self-directed learning at home. The move to reduce the weight of school bags has come from health-related concerns, for carrying such heavy burdens along the stairs puts undue stress on the backbone and can harm the nervous system in the long run.

WHY KIDS ARE BETTER OFF WITHOUT HOMEWORK

According to a Times of India research, 74% of the teachers in India use homework as the primary means of assessing student progress, for it supplements the basic understanding of concepts, assesses basic problem-solving abilities, and notifies parents of the progress of the curriculum. However, a survey of over 4,000 students conducted by Stanford University researchers says that too much homework is detrimental for kids as it reduces the time for selfstudy and barely leaves the time for the extracurricular activities. Furthermore, homework pressure is the biggest reason for physical and mental stress in students.

Another point of concern is that a lot of parents end up doing their children’s homework assignments for them, which is detrimental for the children. Additionally, the lack of time for engagement with family and friends make the children isolated, stagnating their social and emotional development. Hectic homework schedules pressurise teachers since they are expected to collect, mark and redistribute extra work for their students on top of classwork and summative assessments. This takes time away from better assessment methods, such as experiential learning. Therefore, the move to cut down on homework will be beneficial for the overall development of the children, especially if the government makes provisions to help teachers integrate activity-based learning as part of the curriculum.

WEIGHT-LOSS FORMULA FOR SCHOOL BAGS

Reducing the weight of school bags is a welcome move. But teachers and academic experts doubt whether it can solve associated problems. Students are forced to carry 14 to 18 books on an average day because classroom instruction continues to be content-based and most schools do not have provisions for digital content. The best way to tackle this problem without compromising on content is to digitise classrooms and provide online content. This will help to introduce blended learning techniques, which can make classroom sessions interactive and engaging, producing better learning outcomes. Thus, these two mandates have the potential to change the traditional methods of Indian K-12 education, ushering in an era of healthy pedagogical practices and student-centric learning.

Grades  Max. weight of school bag 
1 and 2 1.5 kg
3, 4 and 5 2-3 kg
6 and 7 4 kg
8 and 9 4.5 kg
10 5 kg
Pritikana Karmakar

Pritikana Karmakar has completed her Masters in English from University of Hyderabad. Currently, she is a part of the Next World editorial team. She has teaching experience in an NGO, and is an aspiring teacher and a budding academician. English Language Teaching (ELT) is the area of her research interest.

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