A single judge bench of the Madras High Court comprising of Justice N Kirubakaran on 29th May 2018 directed the Union Government and the State Government to prohibit homework for Class 1 and Class II students in all schools even for the Central Board of Secondary Education. No other subjects than Language and Mathematics are to be taught in Class 1 and 2; no subjects other than Environmental Studies and Mathematics for Classes 3 to 5 as prescribed by the National Council Of Educational Research and Training( NCERT).
The Court also directed the State Government to come up with a “Children School Bag Policy” reducing the weight of the School bags in the line of guidelines issued by either the State of Telangana or the State of Maharashtra.
The court laid emphasis on the prevention of destruction of minds by the faulty Indian Education System. The order was aimed at reducing workload on young students between “ambitious” parents, “taskmaster” teachers and “result oriented” school managements. The Court took down heavily on the prevailing culture of rote learning in the Indian Educational System where “Children are moulded as memory chips”.
For a conducive learning environment being provided to the children of the said educational attainment, there should be no compulsion to read non-prescribed for children. However, a conscious desire to learn should not be curbed. Moreover, the court directed that formal writing( with the use of pencil) should not be introduced till the age of five.
The Hon’ble Judge also expressed concern over the impact homework would have by interfering with the sleep hours of the children by overburdening them which is itself a clear violation of fundamental rights of the children within Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Further, the Court remarked that heavy school bags would cause health hazards to children and thus appropriate steps have been taken in this regard.
To prove his point, the Hon’ble Judge made it a point to refer to the Educational System of the ‘Republic of Finland‘ where students rarely do homework until their teens and they have performed remarkably well in the International Student Assessment.
The Court observed on the importance of these regulations:
“They have to be nurtured properly and taught age-appropriate education which would foster creativity in the minds of younger children. The level of education has to be balanced as per the age and ability of the child giving enough scope for holistic overall development of the child which includes play and social skills…Therefore, this Court has to issue directions safeguarding our children. The directions are to be effected from the academic year 2018-19 onwards. Any attempt to violate the order of this Court would be viewed very seriously as it affects the young children and our nation”
The Court ordered the creation of flying squads to ensure the effective implementation of the orders passed by it. Further a report has to be submitted by the Respondents in the Court within 4 weeks.
This note is written by Gunjeet Singh Bagga.