| Girls demonstrate karate moves at Tarang on Thursday. Picture by Deepak Kumar |
Girls of government schools would be provided with sanitary napkins to ensure they do not adopt unhygienic means during menstruation.
After showering bonanza of bicycles and uniforms on the girls, chief minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday announced this decision with attention to the students’ menstrual health and physical prowess. Free sanitary napkins would be provided to students above 12 years of age enrolled in all government schools across the state.
“The state government has decided to distribute free sanitary napkins to adolescent girl students to stop them from using pieces of cloth. These are unhygienic to use during menstruation,” Nitish said during the concluding session of Tarang, a five-day Bihar sub-junior sports meet.
The scheme is estimated to burden the state exchequer with an additional expenditure of Rs 32 crore. Nitish suggested officials to involve the services of self-help groups in ensuring the mass production of the sanitary napkins at affordable prices. He also asked every school to keep dustbins on the campus to keep the environment clean.
Bihar Education Project Council director Rahul Singh told The Telegraph: “Around 40 lakh girl students will get benefited under the scheme. We will organise training programmes for the teachers and suppliers before formally launching the scheme. The Bihar Education Project Council and health department will impart training to the teachers who in turn would train the students.”
Sources said the Delhi government is already running such a scheme. It was launched in 2011 by then chief minister Sheila Dikshit.
Welcoming Nitish’s announcement, city-based gynaecologist Manju Geeta Mishra said: “This is a very good scheme announced by the government. We regularly come across many cases where the girls are unaware about the affordable and hygienic options available to them at the time of their menstrual flow.”
Dr Mishra pointed out that the lack of awareness on basic hygiene lead girls to stop taking part in sports activities or missing classes. Bacterial infections are also common and it might leads to cervical cancer later.
Anita Singh, another gynaecologist, said: “This is a great and commendable scheme. We find girls using dirty cloth that cause short-term as well as long-term health hazards.”
On the final day of Tarang, 10,000 girls also demonstrated their prowess in martial arts. Watching them were Nitish, education minister P.K. Shahi and principal secretary, education, Amarjeet Sinha. The girls had undergone training in martial arts for 100 days.
Saraswati Kumari, a Class VII student from a government school in Gaya, said: “Learning karate has given me a lot of self-confidence. Now, I am not afraid of going out in my locality alone.”