Burdened with heavy school bags, two seventh grade boys held a press conference in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra to highlight the plight of students who carry a load of 5-7 kg on their shoulders daily to attend classes.
Media persons at the local Press Club were taken aback yesterday when the duo from local Vidya Niketan School, walked in and expressed their desire to hold a conference on the daily hardships they face due to the burdensome bags.
"We carry a minimum of 16 books for 8 subjects daily and sometimes their number increases to 18 or 20, depending upon the subjects for which the classes would be held for the day. Our school bags weigh between 5 and 7 kg and its exhausting to carry them to our classroom located on the third floor," the boys, aged around 12 years, told reporters.
"We had given applications to our principal to consider reducing the weight of school bags a couple of times but the same failed to evoke any response," they claimed.
In some cases, parents help their kids by carrying their bags to the classroom, they said.
As per the directives of Bombay High Court, the Maharashtra government had earlier this year issued a circular issuing guideline on reduction of weight of school bags carried by students on the recommendations of a committee.
The state had informed the High Court that it had also fixed the responsibility on principals and school management to follow the circular and would take action against those not obeying this rule.
According to government pleader, there are 1.06 lakh schools in the state and the circular is binding on them. To a query, whether the students were aware about the circular, they replied in negative.
The boys also offered some alternatives to resolve this problem.
They suggested that the authorities make arrangements for keeping their daily work books in school or reduce the number of periods per day.
"There are 8 periods a day on average for which we have to carry textbooks for each subject along with their respective work books. In addition, few more books also need to be carried, on some of the week days, which prove to be cumbersome," they said.
On any possible disciplinary action by school authorities, the two boys said their demands are "just" and do not anticipate any problem.
When asked if the school fails to address the grievance, the two said they would go on a hunger strike till their demands are fulfilled.