Bengaluru: All government schools in Karnataka have separate toilets for girls and boys in the state. So claim senior officials from the Department of Public Instruction (DPI). But statistics counter this. The 2014-15 annual report of the Unified District Information System of Education (UDISE) reveals that almost 300 schools in the state have no separate loos.
The UDISE report, on its website, says 227 schools in the state don’t have boys’ toilets and 63 don’t have separate loos for girls. And even where there are separate loos, they are simply not enough. For instance, the government municipal school in Lakshmeshwara, Gadag, has just one loo to cater to 500 girls. This prompted the aggrieved girls to shoot off a letter to the district child helpline.
“We have only one toilet for girls. There are times when students end up going to open areas on the campus to answer nature’s call and this has created an unhygienic environment in the school,” the girls wrote in their complaint. Worse, their school campus, about 55km north of Bengaluru, also houses a government PU college and an Urdu school.
While the girls’ embarrassment is understandable, it’s a plight shared by many school students across the state.
In March, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) launched the Swachh Vidyalaya Programme under the Swachh Bharat Mission by setting a target to the state governments to have separate boys’ and girls’ toilets in government schools within one year. But barely three months before the deadline ended, very little has been done.
DPI sources admit, in private, to lapses. They acknowledge that compared to the strength of students in some schools, the number of available toilet rooms are not sufficient. In some schools, the existing boys’ toilet has been hived off to create a girls’ toilet room.
And where there are toilets, they are either in a shabby state or shut. Raghunath Gowda Patil, an RTE activist, told TOI, “About 50% of the toilets in government schools of Gadag district are always locked up as as they are in a bad shape. We will soon give a memorandum to the education department to build new toilets or to renovate the existing ones.”
Nagasimha G Rao, convenor of RTE Task Force, said according to a survey of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), 20% of girls have stopped going schools due to bad toilets and lack of them. In some districts like Dharwad, Chamrajanagar and Gadag, where student strength is high, there is no proportionate number of toilets.
He also pointed out that as per RTE rules, every school should have disabled friendly toilets, but only a handful have them.
Govt schools and loos
Of 21,816 lower primary schools, 72 don’t have boys’ toilets and 22 don’t have girls’ toilets
Of 22,479 higher primary schools, 33 have no boys’ toilets and 5 have no girls’ toilets
Of 44,295 elementary schools, 105 don’t have boys’ toilets and 27 have no girls’ toilets
Of 4,614 secondary schools, 10 have no boys loos and 3 don’t have girls’ toilets.
Of 874 higher secondary schools, 7 don’t have boys toilets and 6 have no girls’ loos
Source: Unified District Information System of Education