Filthy Toilets In Schools Cause Inconvenience To Students

Srinagar—RomanaJaved (name changed) had a childhood dream of studying in Women’s College M.A Road. Whenever she passed by the college or read anything about it in newspapers, she fantasized about her prospective three years in the college and about so many things that the college had to offer in terms of personal and professional development.

Romana saw her dream realized last year when she finally enrolled herself in a BA program in the college. Hailing from a far off village in Tral, it was difficult to convince her father who was against her everyday commute to the institute.

“I didn’t know I fought for a college that didn’t even cater to the basic needs of my life. one can’t even find a decent washroom in this college,” said Romana.

The washroom that Romana talks about has not water and sometimes if there is any water supply, there are no taps to regulate it. The flush is broken and there is no bolt in the door. A yellow tinge has taken cover the otherwise white tiles and the only dustbin present is over spilling. Moreover, at any given time, there is a queue of at least 7-10 girls waiting for their turn.

“We are sick of it. I have not offered any Zuhr prayer since I came to this college. Where will one do ablution? You end up getting dirtier in the process of cleaning yourself,” adds Romana.

Romana along with many girl students approached the college administration to set up new toilets in the old blocks of college but nothing concrete has happened so far, “we told them that we catch infections here but they barely send sweepers for couple of days and then forget about the issue,”Romana further adds.

Sanitation in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) is among the worst in India. The much hyped Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is largely unimplemented in the state. According to District Information System for Education (DISE) survey 2014-2015, 6,351 schools in J&K lack toilets for girls and 8,098 lack toilets for boys. It puts the students at risk of many water and airborne diseases including Hepatitis A and diarrhea.

ShaheenaNissar (name changed) studies science in Pulwama Degree College and has a habit of drinking a lot of water because of some health issues. From last two years, on any normal day, shehas been using her college washroom around 7-8 times a day. However, she says, she is yet to get used to the foul smell that hangs in her college washrooms, “I wear two layered veil but the smell penetrates even through it and I am forced to cover my nose with my hands,” said Shaheena.

The washroom of Pulwama Degree College looks replica of the washroom at women’s college M.A road. There are dry, rusted and broken taps. Doors are either damaged or without bolts. The students complain that sweepers rarely clean and sanitize the washroom or empty the dustbins, “inside our classrooms they teach us about infections and bacteria but in washrooms they expose us to them. It is ironical,” added Shaheena angrily.

According to a survey by the Department of School Education and Literacy (DISE), Union Ministry of Human Resource Development, 60 percent of government-run schools in Jammu and Kashmir were without toilets till August 2014, putting it at 4th rank among the Indian states with higher number of unusable toilets in schools.

More than the paucity of funds, it is the government’s inaction that seems the reason. Of Rs. 121.52 crore granted by the center for sanitation program between 2014-15, only 4.66 crore was used by the state government, leaving about 96% of the funds unused.

18-year-old Ameesa Bhat (name changed) still has hangover of the “horrible” experience she encountered in Government Higher Secondary for Boys and Girls in NoorporaAwantipora, “washrooms for boys and girls were together and the boys in the queue were passing lewd marks and giggling while looking at the girl’s queue. It was so embarrassing,” said Ameesa.

Ameesa who studies in 12th standard in a Jammu higher secondary school had her practical exams in Noorpora Higher Secondary for which she had to visit there for four days, “administration should at least think about our conservative society before setting up male and female toilets side by side,” Ameesa added.

The condition of washrooms in government-run educational institutions is abysmal putting students especially girls through a lot of hassle and exposes them to various infections. It is mention worthy that lack of proper sanitation in educational institutions has also contributed to higher dropout rates among girl students across India.


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