The government is considering proposals such as bringing out textbooks in two volumes, following a flexible timetable and starting a pilot project to provide tablets in classrooms in an effort to lighten heavy school bags.

According to a senior human resource development (HRD) ministry official, a meeting was chaired by HRD minister Prakash Javadekar on Thursday to review school education.

“A number of suggestions were given to reduce the burden of schools bags, which is also a long-standing demand of parents and students. All the suggestions will be considered by the ministry and a final decision will be taken soon,” the official said.

Sources further said the move will impact government as well as private schools.

“The minister is quite concerned about the issue and a number of suggestions were also given by Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) such as asking schools to follow a flexible timetable, installing RO for water so that students do not have to carry water bottles and allowing students to wear sports shoes to school as they have to carry it separately for games period,” he said. “This plan is at a preliminary stage and requires more discussion. All stakeholders will be consulted before a decision is taken regarding books,” the official added.

Sources said the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has been asked to prepare a report on all the suggestions and a final decision on the ones to be adopted will be taken by the ministry.

The CBSE has been issuing circulars to schools on a regular basis, asking them to ensure 
that students up to Class 2 are not required to bring school bags. It has also restricted the number of textbooks to be carried by students till Class 8. In Tamil Nadu, books have been divided into two semesters on an experimental basis so that students only get those books to class that are taught in the particular semester.

The Kendriya Vidyalayas are also looking at reducing the load on children by using tablets. However, the project will cater to students in higher classes.

“We are trying to have at least one school in every region for this project. Based on the experience and outcome of the experiment, the HRD ministry will take a call next year on incorporating the scheme into school education. But this will not help junior classes as they won’t be able to use it,” said a senior official.