Schools sans toilets, water

JAIPUR: At a time when the government is trying to increase enrollment in schools, specially of the girl child, recent data by the District Information System of Education (DISE) has brought to fore the lack of basic infrastructure in most schools of the state.

According to the DISE 2008-09 figures, there are 15,051 upper primary school in the state do not have separate toilets for girls. More surprising are figures of 7,919 schools that do not even have facilities of drinking water.

The absence of toilets in girls schools has often been attributed as the singular most reason for large school drop out or absenteeism among girls in higher classes. During his last visit to the Pink City even management guru C K Prahlad had also pointed out the lack of toilets as the major reason for drop out of school among girls. "These are minor things that make a great difference," he said. Says Kapil Joshi, spokesperson for the Saman Bachpan Abhiyan, which in collaboration with the Indo-Global Social Service Society has been working for equal rights for children in the state, "It is the right of every child that he or she is provided with toilets and drinking water in schools. But in reality that is not the case and therefore they often give up studies altogether."

"The absence of toilets induces parents not to send their daughters to schools ----increasing dropout rates. Besides, in many schools children have to go to far off places just to have a drinking water which is not conducive for education," he adds. More shocking perhaps are figures of 67,115 government schools in the state that do not have electricity and 1,988 upper primary schools that do not even have a building. The figures also says that 79,176 out of 80,701 upper primary schools do not have computers.

"Under such conditions how can one expect children studying in government schools to compete with those in other schools. There are schools that operate from just one room," says Joshi, whose organisation aims to provide equal opportunity to all children.

Joshi also laments the poor student-teacher ratio in rural schools. According to him, though the DISE puts forth figures of 26.82 as the teacher student ratio but the in reality it is worse. "There 16,747 schools that have a single teacher while 44.40% of schools have less than three teachers.

"There are many government schools in rural areas where children still have to await the arrival of the teacher while those in urban areas have excess teachers. Unless these anomalies are removed little can be achieved in trying to ensure more enrollment or of curbing the dropout rate," he adds.

5 October, 2009