Wednesday, June 19, 2024

1 toilet for every 130 students at schools

Water, sanitation and hygiene in primary school are in a deplorable condition as two out of three schoolchildren are out of functional latrine coverage, exposing to health hazards, according to UNICEF statistics. Learning, hygiene and health are inter-linked as children miss school or perform poorly when they suffer from WASH-related illnesses, campaigners say. Such illnesses could spread fast in poor hygienic conditions in schools where many children are together for many hours.
The UNICEF study conducted in April 2012 said that 7,869 primary schools had no toilets and 40,129 needed extensive repairs; and 30,687 have functioning facilities.
The study covered 78,685 primary schools, of which 60,957 are government-supported. There
The figures show that two-thirds of the schoolchildren surveyed are out of functional latrine coverage.
The study said that on an average, there was a toilet for every 130 students. At schools, only 6 per cent of the students wash their hands with soap after defecation and before eating.
While 42 per cent of schools reported providing soaps for handwashing, soaps were found in only 17 per cent of the schools; 23 per cent of the students drink surface water and 7 per cent of the schools had water sources that have excess arsenic, according to the study.
Government officials said that that they were concerned about WASH facilities in schools. The government has plans to build WASH blocks facilities with hygienic latrines, hand washing and others in 18,000 schools by June 2016 under the PEDP–III.
A UNICEF campaign web site on WASH in School says that the government has a standard latrines-toilet ratio is 60:1, almost no school maintains the standard.
Again the government has a standard for pupils: a hand-washing facility is 1000:1. There is no school where this ratio is maintained. A little less than 94% of the schools have latrines within the school compounds.
‘According to the DPE [Directorate of Primary Education], there are 37 per cent functioning toilets in primary schools.’ Nujulee Begum, a WASH specialist at UNICEF, told New Age.
‘Other schools are facing severe problems regarding hygiene, clearing, maintenance and running water facilities,’ Nujulee said. ‘Ninety per cent of schools do not have water source within the stipulated 10 metres of a latrine.’
Former caretaker government adviser for primary education Rasheda K Chowdhury said that WASH facilities were inadequate. ‘The lack of WASH facilities was one of the reasons of drop-out,’ said Rahseda, also the executive director of the Campaign for Popular Education.
She said that the country was trying make facilities better but development in the sector was not satisfactory.
Students need clean and hygienic toilets and hand washing facilities in schools for proper education and health, Manzoor Ahmed, adviser to the Institute of Educational Development in BRAC University, told New Age.
He said that most of the toilets in schools were filthy and lacked running water. ‘In our country, there is lack of awareness among people of WASH facilities. If a primary student gets habituated to facilities, the student will convey the habit to society.’
Campaigners called for a revision in the construction design and wanted hand washing facilities, urinals waste water disposal system included. They also wanted them to be child-friendly.
There are about 1.84 crore student in more than 80,000 primary schools.
DPE additional director general SM Mesbahul Islam said that almost all schools had at least one toilet. ‘Some of them are backdated, lack running water and need maintenance.’
‘The construction of 8000 WASH blocks for one each for girls and boys in 4000 schools is under way. A significant emphasis was given on WASH in schools in PEDP III,’ said SM Mesbahul Islam who, is one of the supervisors of the PEDP III project.
There will be separate WASH block for girl and boys and the blocks will have hygienic latrines with running water and hand washing facilities, Mesbahul said .

-With New Age input

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