Lightening the School Bag: Kollam Shows the Way

Bindu Gopinath

An initiative by about a dozen schools in Kollam district could go a long way toward addressing a perpetual problem children and their parents face every day: the overweight of school bags.

Various studies have shown that a large number of children suffer from orthopedic ailments because of the weight of their school bags. This problem was discussed during a meeting between school authorities and K.N. Balagopal, a member of parliament from the district. The brainstorming led to the idea of `schools without bags,’ and a pilot project got underway today at a school in Punalur.

It’s a simple idea: children in 11 schools will get a second set of books, which will be kept in the school itself, so that they don’t have to lug it around. Balagopal has disbursed 3 million rupees from the Members of Parliament local Area Development Scheme for these schools to build cabinets to store the books. Parent-teacher associations will chip in with assistance to buy the second set of books for the children.


“This plan needs to be replicated across the state as the weight of school bags is a serious issue,” said A. Nirmala, child psychologist and head of Shantiniketan School in Thiruvananthapuram. ``This is really a welcome effort, as children can reach school fresh and focus better on their studies.”

About 3,000 primary school children will benefit from the pilot project in Kollam, Balagopal says. He is now planning to suggest the `schools without bags’ initiative to the state government.

(Caricature by SajiCS Cherpu)