Indian officials recently approved weight guidelines for children’s school bags.

The central government said the weight of the bag should depend on the age of the child. It urged all Indian states to set limits in accordance with the new guidance.

Under the guidelines, no homework would be given to children in Classes 1 and 2. This will ensure that the youngest students have no books to carry home.

For students in Classes 3 to 5, the weight of a school bag would never be more than three kilograms. And bags would never weigh more than five kilograms for students in Class 10.

Studies on heavy lifting

The Indian government noted studies that show how a heavy load can affect students’ soft and developing spines.

One study found that 68 percent of young children might suffer from mild back pain. The mild pain can develop into long-term back pain and affect bones of the spinal column.

Rashmi Tapke is a mother of two children in Mumbai. She said heavy school bags reflect poor planning.

She supports the federal weight limits. She added, “If they (schools) plan, they can repeat the subjects taught and thus reduce the load. My kids find it difficult to carry so many books.”

But in large parts of rural India, children still have to walk great distances, weighed down by heavy school bags.

Rajinder Shukla’s daughter attends school in Uttar Pradesh state. He said she has to bring “about 4-5 kilograms of books in her school bag and also carry her lunch box and water bottle in a separate bag.”

Exercise 1


Read the following vocabulary with your teacher.


accordance (n.) /əˈkoɚdn̩s/ - in a way that agrees with or follows (something, such as a rule or request)

  • The soldier said that he acted in accordance with his orders.


spine (n.) /ˈspaɪn/ -  the row of connected bones down the middle of the back

  • X-ray shows her spine.


kid (n.) /ˈkɪd/ - a son or daughter

  • He has a wife and two kids.


lunch box (n.) - a box in which a lunch can be kept and carried to school, work, etc.




Exercise 2 


Answer these questions about the article.

  1. Are backpacks in India too heavy?
  2. Is weight regulated?
  3. They must not be heavier than what?


Exercise 3

Fill in the blanks

Fill in the blanks with the correct word listed below.

accordance, spine, kid, lunch box

  1. In ________ with the rules, smoking is forbidden.
  2. He has one ________.
  3. Don´t forget your ____ ____, or you will be hungry.
  4. ______ is in the middle of your back.


Exercise 4


Have a discussion on following questions.

  1. Are bags too heavy?
  2. Were your books too heavy?
  3. Is reducing the load good for kids?



This lesson is based on a news article originally published by learningenglish.voanews.