Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Lack of water, sanitation in schools leading to dropout of teen girls

Lack of water, sanitation in schools leading to dropout of teen girls

TNN Sep 7, 2012, 10.15PM IST

GUWAHATI: Safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene are important requirements at education institutions as a lot of students, especially adolescent girls, discontinue their education due to the lack of proper toilet facilities. This is proving to be one of the major hindrances in implementing the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, properly in the state.
In a two-day state-level consultation on 'Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in all Schools: Making it a Reality', organised by the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Assam in collaboration with Unicef on Friday, the need to give more emphasis to maintaining hygiene and providing proper sanitation and safe drinking water in schools was stressed upon.

L S Changson, commissioner secretary, education department, said, "Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is one of the most important aspects of education. We should also keep in mind that unless students in every school learn the importance of hygiene, the work remains unfinished."
"Also, the subject of hygiene should be included in the curriculum in subjects like social science and environmental studies (EVS). The WASH concept can be introduced in the mid-day meal scheme, where schools should make it mandatory for children to wash their hands before and after eating," Changson said.
As per the DISE report, in 2010-2011, 91 per cent of the schools in Assam had drinking water facility as compared to 71 per cent in 2005-2006. But only 44 per cent of the schools had common toilet facility as per 2010-2011 records. The figure was 31 percent in 2005-2006. The good news is that the provision for separate girls' toilets in schools increased from just 9 per cent in 2005-2006 to 78 per cent in 2010-2011.
Jeroo Master, Unicef chief, Assam said, "Besides providing facilities, there should be a proper monitoring of whether the facilities are been used properly and cleanliness is being maintained. In fact, the state government should initiate a special award for such schools that maintain cleanliness and hygiene. Menstrual hygiene management is another important thing that needs to be introduced in education. The lack of this is leading to a high number of dropouts among girls," she said.
Sarodi Saikia, director, State Council for Education and Research Training (SCERT), said: "We should see that the facilities are available to the people and are functional as well. Though the facilities are being made available in different parts of the state, the population of riverine and char areas are difficult to cover, as they keep moving," she said.

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