School toilets AP at Bottom, Next to Bihar

School toilets AP at Bottom, Next to Bihar
Highlights

School toilets APat Bottom, Next to Bihar, Compulsory Education Act, Supreme Court. Three years after the Right to Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act came into force, children are still studying in unsafe schools, with no electricity, drinking water or toilets.

TOILETS PLEASE

Three years after the Right to Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act came into force, children are still studying in unsafe schools, with no electricity, drinking water or toilets. Lack of infrastructure, especially facilities for drinking water and separate toilets for girls, is one of the key factors that push children out of schools. The alarming drop-out rate, especially among girls, is worrisome.

The Supreme Court deadline to provide toilets was March 31, 2013, failing which the school’s recognition would be withdrawn, but no action had been taken as yet. It is a shame that a country that boasts of sending exploratory missions to Moon and Mars spending hundreds of crores cannot provide clean toilets in schools.

The Hans India takes a look at the sorry state of schools in Andhra Pradesh as part of the energetic campaign being carried out by the HMTV. More than 18,000 Govt schools in AP have no toilets, and of those which have toilets more than 70% are dysfunctional. This puts the state in second position after Bihar among the States without toilets in schools.

The reason: Lack of funds. Interestingly, Rs 48 lakh was returned to the treasury by the Hyderabad schools as unspent in 2012-13. Is it not shame on the chesty politicians, bureaucrats and other luminaries ?

• In Hyderabad most schools have toilets but dysfunctional

• Children, especially girls, face untold hardships

We suggest people raise their voice on the issue. They may share their observations, findings or indignation, with pictures wherever available, to drive the message home. Responses may be sent to toilets.pls@thehansindia.in

Hyderabad: The Supreme Court’s order to state governments to provide basic facilities in schools by March 31, 2013, has fallen on deaf ears. Toilet, the most important and basic necessity, is still not available to school children in the state. Three years after the RTE Act and more than Rs 46,282.11 crore spent on school infrastructure in India, Andhra Pradesh is in the second position after Bihar with 18,092 schools without toilets.

In Hyderabad, there are 802 schools; 620 primary and 181 high schools. But the toilets in 404 schools are dysfunctional. Andhra Pradesh has the dubious distinction of falling behind on two crucial areas drinking water and toilet facilities. Some 75 per cent of the schools in the state have separate boys toilets, but only 21 per cent are functional. In the case of girls, 61 per cent are functional. Others are dysfunctional because either there is no water supply in the toilets or no one to clean them.Toilets are so stinking students shy away from them.

According to K Venkateshwara Rao, Chief Engineer, RVMSSA, Hyderabad, “Only 6,000 schools in urban areas come under our purview. The construction of the remaining 75,000 schools is done by the rural water supply department.” Out of the 2,452 toilets approved by the Government of India in urban areas, more than 2,264 are still not constructed. In rural areas, the work is even slower. According to a survey conducted in 947 schools in eight districts by Centre for World Solidarity, Andhra Pradesh Resource Centre in 2012, only 30 per cent of the toilets are functional.

Sucharita, In-charge APRC, Centre for World Solidarity, says, “This year no funds were released for the maintenance of toilets, so the percentage of functional toilets must have further dipped.” V Usha Rani, State Project Director, Rajiv Vidya Mission Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, said, “Infrastructure is not the problem but it is the lack of funds that is creating a crisis. We have advised the school managements to use part of the funds from the maintenance grant but it is not enough.” A Ramchander, School Complex Headmaster, said, “The issue today is not lack of infrastructure but it is the lack of staff. No one is willing to clean toilets for Rs 500 a month. Over a period of time even good toilets become dysfunctional.” Echoing the same sentiment is K Vasumathi, MP UPS School, Venkatapuram.

“How can you expect clean toilets with a meagre fund of Rs 5,000 per year? Schools get just two funds namely – School Grant and Maintenance Grant – which is less than a lakh per year. These two grants are for the overall maintenance of school buildings, reeky roofs, reconstruction of boundary walls and for contingencies. A Usha Rani, Deputy Educational Officer, Malkajgiri Division, says, “There is no provision for the post of a sweeper (who used to double up and clean toilets). Once a sweeper retires there is no appointment taking place.

” Earlier there was a post of Part Time Farash (PTF); now the government has stopped recruitment. The state project director says that it is not practical to appoint permanent sweepers as many schools out of the 76,000 in the state especially in rural areas have very less strength of just 20. If the lack of funds is a reason for the sorry state of the toilets, the unwillingness of headmasters in using the funds is another reason. Dr B Subbarayudu, Hyderabad district project Officer, RVMSSA, said, “Rs 48.68 lakh was returned to the government by the schools in Hyderabad in 2012-13.” A senior official at RVM said, “Throughout the state the unused funds would be in several crores. Headmasters do not want to spend the money as they have to maintain cash registers.”

Lack of funds for toilets

• School managements are told to utilise Rs 500 per month from the Maintenance Fund to get the toilets cleaned. No one is willing to work for Rs 500.

• There is no provision for the post of sweepers (who used to double up and clean toilets). Once a sweeper retires the post is not filled.

• The post of Part Time Farash (PTF) is no longer in vogue

. • Schools get just two funds namely; School Grant and Maintenance Grant which is less than a lakh. These two grants are for the overall maintenance of school buildings, reeky roofs, reconstruction of boundary walls, toilet maintenance etc is insufficient.

What apex court had said

  • Set March 31, 2013 deadline for Centre, States
  • Observed parents not sending children due to lack of toilets

The Supreme Court on October 3, 2012 directed the Centre and the state governments to provide basic infrastructure, including drinking water and toilets, in all schools on or before March 31, 2013. A bench headed by justice K S Radhakrishnan fixed the time limit and asked the governments to take steps to provide the basic facilities in schools across the country. The bench said that all its previous directions pertaining to providing infrastructure should be implemented within the time frame fixed by it. On October 18, 2011, the apex court had directed all states and union territories to build toilets, particularly for girls, in all government schools.

The court passed the order on a PIL seeking its direction to Centre and state governments to provide basic facilities of drinking water and toilets in schools. The apex court had earlier stated that it was imperative that all schools provide toilet facilities, as empirical researches indicated that wherever toilet facilities are not provided in schools, parents do not send their children (particularly girls) to schools. The court had also observed that not providing the infrastructure was a violation of the right to free and compulsory education of children guaranteed under Article 21 (A) of the Constitution

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