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HC prods govt on cradle hygiene

Ranchi, May 13: Jharkhand High Court today pulled up the state on poor hygiene at government schools and directed authorities to ensure that all schools had proper toilets and adequate drinking water facilities for students.

A division bench of Chief Justice R. Banumathi and Justice S. Chandrashekhar, which was hearing a PIL initiated suo motu on poor hygiene in girls’ schools, expressed its dissatisfaction with the state’s efforts to initiate correctives, and asked authorities to buck up.

Human resources development secretary K. Vidyasagar, who appeared in person, informed the court that the government had taken steps to construct toilets and provide adequate drinking water in all government schools.

While work on construction of toilets in primary and middle schools would be over by December, work in high schools would be over by March next year, he said.

The court was however not satisfied with the pace of work.

Vidyasagar further said that the state government had already applied for sanction of funds from the Centre under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan for construction of toilets and water kiosks in schools.

The case will be taken up again on July 2.

The high court initiated the PIL on November 21 last year on the basis of a news report published in The Telegraph on poor sanitation and hygiene in government schools leading to a large number of dropouts among girls.

The report was based on a study conducted by the Unicef on life skills and menstrual hygiene of women and adolescent girls conducted in July last year.

The Unicef report concluded that “unavailability of toilets” was one of the reasons that forced several girls to either stay away from school during menstruation or drop out of school altogether.

The Unicef study was conducted in Gumla and East Singhbhum districts among 4,500 respondents of which 1,800 were girls (pre-menarche 600 and post menarche 1200).

As per the report, a whopping 61 per cent of post menarche girls did not use toilets in schools for changing and cleaning during menstruation, whereas three-fourths of them had complained of inadequate infrastructure in their schools.

Among the various reasons for being absent from school, 23 per cent girls pointed to menstruation as the primary cause.

Asked how many days they preferred to stay away from school due to menstruation, 93 per cent said they missed at least two days, while 6 per cent preferred to remain absent during the entire duration.