Srinagar: A day after notifying rules for reducing the weight of school bags, the Jammu and Kashmir government on Thursday issued guidelines for schools to give children more time and opportunity to play, have fun, and learn from sources other than textbooks.
The new guidelines have asked officials to encourage students to engage in games and sports in the evenings, “rather than engaging children again in tuitions and homework only”.
“Recreation and physical activity is must for a growing child and is the right of the children,” read the guidelines.
They also laid stress on class interaction, “rather than mere presentation of information in the name of syllabus coverage”.
“There should be dialogue and discussion and the children (should be) engaged with challenging learning tasks such as projects, experiments, field visits, book reviews, discussion on social contemporary issues etc,” the guidelines say.
“The schools can be strengthened technologically by establishing smart class rooms in such a way that students’ minimal number of textbooks are required to be carried to school,” read the guidelines.
As for the parents, they have been asked to choose a lightweight backpack instead of a traditional shoulder bag so that the weight is distributed evenly on a student’s shoulders.
“Electronic gadgets, smart phones, gaming devices etc should not be packed in the bag,” the guidelines read.
On Wednesday, the School Education Department amended the J&K School Education Act 2002 to do away with school bags and formal textbooks at the pre-primary level and with homework up to Class 2.
It also specified subject combinations up to Class 7 besides fixing a maximum weight for school bags up to Class 10.
The department has now issued guidelines for implementation of the new rules. An order issued by Asgar Hassan Samoon, Principal Secretary School Education, has asked school principals or management to frame a time table for each class in such a way that students do not have to carry too many books or notebooks on any day. Schools have also been asked to schedule co-curricular activity on a daily basis.
Under the new guidelines, teachers at the schools have been asked to give a break to routine books and papers and instead indulge students in various activities, games and field trips besides digital learning and movies to make them more attentive and make learning a fun and enjoyable exercise.
They have been asked to mail homework to the students and switch to online project work.
The order also asked schools to keep lockers and desks available for the students for keeping their books and other stuff safely besides directing them to encourage e-learning among the students.
Emphasis has also been laid on the installation of water purifiers in a time bound manner so that students do not have to carry water bottles. Schools ahve been asked to also arrange in-house sports equipment for students.
Heads of schools have been asked to strengthen existing libraries with regard to availability of books and reading space for students.
The order further said that teacher training be made a permanent feature of the system.
Thursday’s order issued by the School Education Department directed respective Chief Education Officers and Zonal Education Officers to ensure the guidelines were implemented in letter and spirit.