Saturday is `No Schoolbag Day' at this village school in Maharashtra
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."
On Saturdays, students of the government-run school at Malkapur village do not bring schoolbags. In fact, they don't 'study' at all. The teachers say that it gives them more energy for the rest of the week and their concentration in the classroom also improves.
The primary school at Malkapur, run by the Aurangabad Zilla Parishad, introduced `No Schoolbag Saturdays' last June.
Malkapur, 28 km from Aurangabad city in Maharashtra, is a tiny village, with a population of 350. The school has 20 students on its rolls, 11 of them girls. "After introducing this concept, we have seen students showing better concentration levels in class on other days," said Sangeeta Talegaonkar, one of the two teachers the school has.
"We teach them handicraft, games, drawing on Saturday, and it is helping them to be stress-free. It gives them energy to study well on weekdays," she added. Another initiative undertaken by the school is the 'Our Word Bank' project to improve students' English vocabulary.
"Students are given five English words and their meaning in Marathi before going home. Next day they are asked to write the words on a piece of paper. It is deposited in a box, which is opened at the end of every month. The student who has learnt the maximum number of words gets a pat on the back," she said.
Another initiative, `Ganit Samriddhi', uses the farming background from which most students come to enhance their mathematical skills, said Savitri Kapse, the principal.
"We ask students to talk to their parents, ask what was the crop yield of family farm, how much money they got by selling the crop. The students frame sums based on this information on their own and find answers too," she said.
They are also learning gardening. The school has its own `Paras-baag' (backyard vegetable patch) for growing veggies, where students work every Friday.
Rutuja Dok, a fourth standard student, said she loves the Saturdays at school now. "I am learning English words every day. We look forward to every Saturday as there is no schoolbag. The day is full of fun," she said.