Friday, 24 February 2012

Most primary schools in Uttarakhand either lack toilets, or toilets are locked to prevent them get soiled: Report

Written by Anil Singh

As you may know, India has “Right to Education” Act. Which means every child in the country, has the right to free and compulsory education till 14 years of age. That apart, whatever is mentioned under the act, makes it mandatory on the Governments to implement and provide for.

The Right to Education Act has made it mandatory that every school should have toilet and water facilities inside its campus. But for the Uttarakhand Education Department, it continues to remain a mission not accomplished.

According to the Annual Status Education Report compiled by Pratham -- Most of the primary schools in rural areas continue to lack drinking water and toilet facilities. Even if some schools have these facilities, these continue to be in poor condition.

Just like many schemes, whose use rests on citizens like you and I, although the number of toilets being constructed in the schools has increased in 2011; the total number of toilets not usable in 2011 is still 35.4 per cent. In 2010, the percentage of such “not usable” toilets was 40.9 per cent.

Projecting another discouraging picture, the report reveals that the number of schools that had water facility but no drinking water available in 2011 was 12.5 per cent. Interestingly, in 2010 the total number of schools that had no drinking water facility was 9.7 per cent.

Only 53.3 per cent toilets were usable in 2011. In 2010, it was 24 per cent.

In 2011, 19.3 per cent of schools had drinking water facility; in 2010 it was 22.1 per cent.

Significantly the schools in rural areas have started making separate toilets for girl in primary schools. A drive adopted in such a great pace that, the percentage of schools with no separate provision for girls toilets in 2011 declined to just 14.1 per cent, from 47.7 per cent in 2010.

One area which needs improvement in the area of ‘Girl toilets’ is again the usability. The total number of toilets for girls not usable in 2011 was 19.4 per cent, in 2010 it was 16.9 per cent.

An area where you as an aware citizen can make a change:

The survey found out that 13.2 per cent of toilets for girls were locked when the survey team visited the schools. In 2010, it was 11.5 per cent.

It’s not an uncommon sight though. In many primary schools, the school administration, lock the toilets, to prevent them get soiled. This way, School staff saves money spent on toilet cleaners and disinfectants (and uses the money allotted for other ethical uses). This also saves the ‘school sweeper’ from cleaning the toilets on a daily basis.

One more reason, why toilets at primary schools are often locked, is that -- Teachers use the same toilets. Since most kids that young are not that civic to use the toilets properly; they indeed soil them. Once the staff, puts a lock on the door, they are assured that, when they (teachers) use the loo, it's sparkling clean.

Isn’t it a shame?

Hence, here comes your role, as an aware citizen; if you see Primary school toilets locked during school hours, and small children relieving themselves in the open; question the principal of the Primary school about the lock (You can even take a photo from your mobile phone for future evidence). Tell politely, him/her to open the toilet.

Make sure, the toilet remains open during school hours on a regular basis.

If the school doesn’t pay heed to your advice; bring the matter to the notice of higher officials of the Education department. You can even, raise the issue amongst the residents of your village, or locality; and visit the school collectively.

Note: The total number of schools visited by the team in 2010 was 337 and in 2011 it was 297. The survey was conducted in 12 districts barring Champawat district.

Lets Ensure Toilets in primary Schools in Uttarakhand are opened for those, for whom they are made:

If you see that the Primary school in your village or locality is locked during school time; click a photograph of the locked door. Click another photograph, this time of school Name (you can click a single photograph, if it covers the locked toilet door and the school name together). If you get school kids in the frame, then better.

Send these photographs to us via email with subject "Locked Toilet" at:, along with your name. We will publish it here.

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