The percentage which does not have access to proper toilets and have to face improper sanitation and hygiene in schools is much higher than half of the school-going population.
Why do you send your children to school?
You ask that to any parent and the answer would be, “because we want them to study in a proper learning environment.” In response to a question from a young student sometime back, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi said that the most common reason for girl students dropping out of school is the absence of toilets and improper hygiene.
For they who can afford the big-bannered school, toilets would never be an issue. But the percentage which does not have access to proper toilets and have to face improper sanitation and hygiene in schools is much higher than half of the school-going population.
An emerging body of scientific studies suggests that as many as 10 million children under the age of ten, who are declared malnourished, are suffering from diseases more because of poor sanitation than lack of food.
Poor condition of sanitation and hygiene in rural areas lead to children falling ill with infections and missing schools, which at the end of academic year ends up in parents withdrawing their wards from school education. India’s sanitation infrastructure especially in government funded schools continues to be bleak.
On an average, 19.15% of primary schools in the country, do not have separate girls’ toilets, 6% of all primary schools do not have facilities for drinking water, while 58.4% of all primary schools do not have a hand-washing facility.
Half of India’s population or at least 620 million people defecate outdoors; and while this share has declined slightly in the recent years, a census analysis data shows that most children in rural or semi-urban areas are exposed to more waste than ever.
While the country has seen a noticeable increase in primary education enrolment rate, the withdrawal of students at such an age still remains a challenge to overcome. There is a sharp correlation between sanitation infrastructure in schools and retention of students in primary schools because of the same reason.
“We enrolled our son and daughter in a nearby school because the fee sounded something which we could afford. But our daughter used to fall sick very often. We thought it was best to take care of her at home, than sending her to school and risking her health all the time,” says a woman from Jharkhand. A report released by the HRD Ministry recently shows that 20% of the schools have no toilet facilities for girls and their enrolment declined by a considerable percentage, the following year.
We hope that the #SwachhBharatAbhiyan improves the condition of toilets in schools and also follows proper cleanliness and sanitation methods, for if the roots of country are not taken care of, prosperity is a thing to be long achieved.