Karnataka: Activists seek more funds for upkeep of toilets in government schools

Activists seek more funds for upkeep of toilets in government schools
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Activists seek more funds for upkeep of toilets in government schools

Highlights

On the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, sanitisation campaigner Archana KR working with Solve Ninja launched an online petition demanding allocation of more funds to maintain toilets at the government run schools

Bengaluru: On the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, sanitisation campaigner Archana KR working with Solve Ninja launched an online petition demanding allocation of more funds to maintain toilets at the government run schools.

While the Central government has prioritised sanitisation as one of the key items on the agenda towards the girls/ women's empowerment, Archana, in her petition, pointed out that there was a major gap in government schools in Karnataka.

"30 to 40 percent dropout rates amongst the adolescent girls in the government schools exist. Monthly, five days they do not attend the schools due to bad toilets and no water especially during their menstrual time. The government is not providing anything specific to sanitation. The government is providing Rs 25,000 per year, but it includes electricity bill, water bill, paint, teaching aids etc. In that, there is no specific amount for toilet facilities," she says. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's plan to make the country Open Defecation Free is a major push towards enhancing the sanitation facilities in the country.

"Rashtriya Madhyamika Shiksha (RMSA) allocates as little as Rs 25,000 per school annually for overall maintenance. This means a school gets as little as Rs 2,000 for all costs including painting, electricity and repairs. This is far from feasible, and as records reflect, this creates a situation where schools are forced to prioritise all other expenses, leaving the toilets on the backburner. Given the prioritisation process, often only teacher's toilets are maintained and these are kept under lock and key," the petition reads.

The petition points out that the absence of toilets results in girls dropping out of school and the dropout ratio is highest in the age group of 11-13 when most girls hit puberty and the need for a clean, hygienic bathroom is crucial.

"The average cost for maintenance of bathrooms for a school - including the remuneration for someone to keep it clean is at least Rs. 15,000 a month. India has been lagging significantly on both these issues. The fact that Karnataka's spending on toilets in schools is abysmal is the case in point," the petition reads.

In her petition, Archana demands that the State government needs to ensure a budget allocation of Rs 1,656 crores per annum (for 92,000 schools) specifically for girls toilets in schools to meet the twin objectives of women's upliftment, education, and improve sanitation levels in the State.

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