Back-breaking: The Central Board of Secondary Education’s directive to lighten school bags will work only if children are asked to carry fewer textbooks.

Aditi Sen, 9, is obsessed with pencil boxes. She carries five to school daily—one for her colour pencils, one for crayons, another for sketch pens, one for craft goodies such as glue and staplers, and one for pencils and erasers. She usually has classes in four subjects daily and needs to carry four textbooks and five notebooks. She also carries a rough notebook and a hard-bound almanac apart from a school library book she reads whenever she has free time in school. She packs her bag every night after dinner.


Tanisha Gupta, 11, carries six-eight textbooks and seven-nine notebooks daily plus a rough notebook and a hard-bound school almanac. She carries a pencil box and a geometry box. Since she often forgets to pack according to the timetable, she prefers carrying all her books on most days. Wednesdays are light days for her thanks to a double period.


Hitakshi Mahendru, 13, packs her bag every morning before leaving for school. She needs to take six-eight textbooks daily and around 10 notebooks. She carries a pocket-size Longman Basic Dictionary daily. Unlike most children, Mahendru does not carry a pencil box. Instead, she just tucks in a couple of pens in the front pocket of her bag. She does carry a geometry box occasionally. For her, Friday is a light bag day because she has two double periods, which means fewer textbooks.

Photographs by Pradeep Gaur/Mint