Monday, 30th October 2017

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School minus loo is public urinal - Girls answer nature's call outside campus; slum dwellers defecate on playground

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  • Published 14.12.13

Class XI student Geeta Kumari had to dash to a friend’s house from school to answer nature’s call in the middle of her social science paper on Thursday. The 14-year-old’s best efforts could not prevent the loss of 10 minutes during her second-term examination

Geeta’s classmate Nisha Prasad (15) could not concentrate on her paper because of throat irritation that led to bouts of cough. She desperately needed a glass of water and the only source was a public tubewell half a kilometre from school. Nisha could not afford to lose 20 minutes and waited till she finished her paper

This is not a coincidence of kismet, but curse for 507 students — half of them girls — who study at Rajkiyakrit Satyendra Narayan High School, the lone state-owned cradle in the industrial hub of Adityapur that offers Class IX-X education but lacks toilets and drinking water arrangements.

The high school — located some 8km from Jamshedpur — despises the October 2012 Supreme Court order, asking state governments to build toilets and drinking water kiosks in every cradle within six months, in the worst possible way.

Existing amid squalor since 1972 and without a boundary wall, it gives open invitation to nearby slum residents to use a classroom veranda as a public urinal and the playground as a defecation spot. The G+1 high school, which hosts different sections for Classes IX and X, also flaunts a defunct tube well that has been awaiting repairs for five years.

“It is difficult to enter the campus, which reeks strongly of urine. Children cannot play freely because the ground is covered with human excreta. Our repeated requests to local residents not to use the school veranda and grounds as toilets have fallen on deaf ears. Some youths even threatened us to keep shut,” said principal in-charge Ram Prakash Singh.

He pointed out that the school did have loos once upon a time, but local hoodlums either vandalised or stole away the toilet pans.

“We have exchanged several correspondences with district education officials for repair of toilets and the tube well. Assurances have been empty so far,” Singh added.

As if the ordeal were not enough, peeping Toms and perverts prompt teachers to prevent girl students from relieving themselves anywhere on the boundary-less campus. “They have no choice, but to control their urge,” said a teacher not willing to be named.

With class hours spanning from 10am to 4pm, sometimes the students are allowed to visit a friend’s home to overcome their urgencies. “But, under no circumstances can girls be allowed to relieve themselves on the open campus. No one knows when someone might target them. The school has no boundary you see,” the teacher expressed her concerns.

Geeta, daughter of a plumber, recalled her exam day nightmare. “Humein saheli ke ghar jana padha. Social science ka exam tha, teacher se request kar 10 minute extra mila (I had to go to the toilet urgently. I sought time from the teacher and went to a friend’s place).”

Nisha, whose father works in a small-scale unit in Adityapur and cannot afford a better school, said: “Exam mein khasi hota raha. Exam ke baad paani pine par aram hua (I coughed the entire duration of my exam. I felt relieved only when I drank water after my paper).”

Seraikela-Kharsawan education officer Hari Shanker Ram admitted the problems plaguing the government high school in Adityapur, but expressed helplessness.

“I have sought funds from the government for construction of a boundary wall. Letters have also been written to the executive engineer of district drinking water and sanitation department. School officials have been asked to use money from their development fund to repair toilets,” the DEO said.

Principal in-charge Singh stressed that repairing toilets would not serve their purpose till the boundary wall was raised. “We may repair toilets, but they will be vandalised again. There will be no end to our problems till a boundary is constructed to prevent unwelcome entry of outsiders.”