The Madras High Court asked the Centre on Tuesday to ensure that schools do not assign homework to students of Classes 1 and 2 and that children’s schoolbags are lighter, PTI reported. The court said children are not weightlifters and schoolbags are not loaded containers.

The court asked the Centre to instruct state governments to ensure that bags are not more than 10% of the child’s weight. State governments should formulate a “Children School Bag Policy”, said Justice N Kirubakaran.

The court also asked for the use of books published by the National Council for Educational Research and Training to be made mandatory. The judge directed the Centre to tell state governments not to prescribe any subjects except language and mathematics for Classes 1 and 2, and language, environmental science and mathematics for Classes 3 to 5.

A petitioner had moved the court saying that schools were assigning homework to students of Classes 1 and 2 even though it was prohibited. According to the Department of School Education and Literacy of the Human Resource Development Ministry, there should be no homework till Class 2 and homework for two hours a week for higher classes.

“Many experts find that homework is beneficial only to older kids, whereas young children are notably lacking in ‘executive control’, the ability to concentrate, to follow directions, to control impulses and keep the details in mind,” the judge said.

The judge asked the Centre and state governments for a compliance report within four weeks.