30mn Indian school children have no access to toilets


New Delhi : Nearly 30 million school children in the country still have no access to toilets, even as schools have made significant progress in providing the facility in recent years, a study by UNICEF’s Water, Sanitation, Hygiene(WASH) programme revealed Wednesday.

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Most schools are also found wanting in teaching of hygiene and life skills.

According to the paper released by WASH, though the proportion of schools having toilets has increased from 50 percent to nearly 75 percent in last five years, only 60 percent of schools have girls’ toilets, a factor which has been noticed to be a major deterrent in girls attending schools. Also where the toilets are available, only one or two are usable.

“About 30 million children across India do not have access to toilet facilities,” the paper said.

“More than 90 percent schools have drinking water facility, but only 80 percent are functional. The majority of school curriculum lack focus on hygiene and life skill education,” it further said.

The figures given by WASH reveal that a total 6.50 million children (3.46 percent of the total children enrolled in schools) have no drinking water facility.

The Right to Education Act (RTE) requires all schools to have separate toilets for boys and girls and adequate safe drinking water facility.

The Supreme Court had also given a ruling in December 2011, stating that all schools must provide toilet facilities, and denial of basic right to water and toilet “clearly violates the right to free and compulsory education”.

The study also says promoting simple handwashing can reduce child morbidity from diarrhoeal diseases by 44 percent.

According to UNICEF figures, globally, around 2.65 billion people live without access to proper toilet facilities and 883 million don’t have access to safe water.

Education specialist at UNICEF Raka Rashid says promoting hygiene habit during school years may last for life and be beneficial in preventing several health problems. It also improves school attendance, girls participation and their health.