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JK sends officers to southern states to know how much do school bags weigh

By Irshad Khan

Srinagar, Mar 24: Snubbing its own expert committee’s recommendations on reducing weight of school bags, the School Education Department would send a 3-member ‘study group’ to Tamil Nadu to address the issue.
The department, as per an order issued on Friday, has also deputed three officers each to the states of Karnataka and Rajasthan to “study” the “models” of Human Resource and School Management Committees (SMCs), respectively.
Each of the three groups would stay in the respective states from March 25-28, the order said.
The School Education Department has failed to act on a report filed in November by a 4-member expert committee on reducing the weight of school bags.
The committee was constituted on the J&K High Court’s on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on the issue.
There was no need for the School Education Department to travel to the southern-most state of Tamil Nadu to find ways for reducing the weight of school bags, Prof A G Madhosh, one of the expert committee members, opined.
Rather than searching for answers from other states, Prof Madhosh said, the department “should have placed our recommendations before a working committee”.
The study group constituted by the department would simply “make another report”, Prof Madhosh said.
“But as far as a scope of taking action is concerned, I do not think there was something wrong with our report,” he added. “They do not need to go to Tamil Nadu. The issue of school bags is same everywhere.”
Questioning the School Education Department’s sincerity to address the issue, Prof Madhosh said, “It is not that the department constituted the committee intentionally, but it was just to give an answer to the High Court”.
“Now that the issue has come in public domain, they have gone for the (study) group as they do every time. They do not address the problem sincerely,” he added.
To mention, the expert committee has already recommended “avoiding textbooks for primary classes”.
The committee claims that it has actually “customised” the recommendations of the Yashpal Committee of 1992 to “suit Kashmir”.
The expert committee, Prof Madhosh said, had even recommended that “if the department cannot apply our recommendations across the state at once, but at least set up some model schools where the recommendations can be adopted.”
Secretary J&K Board of School Education, Veena Pandita, also a committee member, however, said the government was “at liberty to study practices outside and later take a final call”.
“Although we have also filed recommendations, but the best practices outside the state can be studied and eventually the best decision taken,” she said.