The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Wednesday granted four-month time to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government for enacting a law to set a school bag weight limit for children.
A division bench comprising Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Muhammad Ibrahim Khan granted four months to the provincial government on the request of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Secretary Muhammad Salim Khan.
On the court’s direction, the chief secretary, secretary Elementary and Secondary Education, secretary Higher Education and others appeared in the court. The chief secretary submitted before the bench that it is an important issue and the provincial government would soon adopt a law for regulating the heavy school bags and to review the curriculum for the private schools through the regulatory authority for private schools.
However, the court termed the performance of the Elementary and Secondary Education secretary unsatisfactory.
The court told the education secretary that it was your and regulatory authority’s responsibility to regulate the heavy school bags and expensive books and stationery.
Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan observed that as per the doctors’ report, heavy bags could cause neck, back and shoulder pain in children and also might affect their growth.
“It is a wake-up call for the provincial government to wake up from a deep slumber,” Justice Qaiser Rashid told the chief secretary.
The court fixed July 2 for next hearing in the case, with an observation that the legislation should be seen on the ground and not merely in the papers.
A Peshawar-based lawyer, Moammar Jalal, had filed the writ petition and requested the bench to direct the respondents to legislate or adopt a law to set the schoolbag weight limit as per the age of the children.
It was stated in the petition that children had to carry 12kg to 20kg heavy bags which could cause various types of health issues.
The lawyer said the deputy medical superintendent of the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital in Karachi had written a letter to some school principals, stating that heavy bags could cause neck, back and shoulder pain in children.
The petitioner produced a copy of the letter before the court along with various research studies to support his arguments.
The lawyer requested the court to direct the government to ensure that the weight of schoolbags should not be more than 10 per cent of the child’s body weight.