Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh government’s initiative to build extra toilets for girls and develop other infrastructure in elementary schools has resulted in a big jump in students’ enrolment and attendance, a state government report said. Compared to 61 per cent toilets for girls in elementary schools across the state in November 2019, it rose to 97 per cent in November this year, the report said.
The enrolment and attendance in schools increased to 1.91 crore in 2022-23 vis-a-vis 1.52 crore in 2016-17 due to the infrastructure push, including the setting up of multiple hand wash units, it said. Reports from districts, however, also highlighted the problems in their upkeep as in many schools, students and local people complained that the toilets were either locked or not cleaned daily. The state government had launched “Operation Vidyalaya Kayakalp” in June 2018-19 to further strengthen 19 infrastructure facilities in 1.33 lakh elementary schools. These included constructing boys’ and girls’ toilets along with urinals for children with special needs, safe drinking water, multiple hand wash units, functional electricity connection, furniture and tiling in classrooms and boundary wall among others.
Vijay Kiran Anand, director general of School Education, told PTI that Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath holds a monthly meeting to review the progress of Operation Kayakalp with all divisional commissioners and district magistrates. At state, district and block levels, control rooms have been established to monitor the progress and facilitation of work and monthly IVRS (Interactive Voice Response System) calls are being from state to every head teacher of schools for their feedback and to know the challenges, he said. A three-tier comprehensive monitoring mechanism through Prerna dashboards, from state to block levels, has also been developed to ensure time-bound completion and saturation of child-friendly essential infrastructure in schools, Anand added. He said Operation Kayakalp was selected in the ‘best practice’ category by the Union Education Ministry and a presentation was given to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on it in June.
A report from Ballia said 2,249 schools are running under the Basic Education Council. District coordinator (construction) Satyendra Rai said every school has at least one toilet for girl students while some others with more female students have more than one latrines. Jyoti, a government school student on Bilthar road said there are three toilets in a row for both boys and girls. But they have a common entrance door, which is creating inconvenience to girl students, she said. Tanya and Anuradha of the same school said toilets are seldom cleaned. Sushil Yadav, principal of government school in Kakraso village said there are 514 students in the school which has four toilets.
The department has not provided any safai (cleanliness) staff. So, they have to depend on the gram panchayat staff for getting them cleaned, he added. A report from Jhansi said most of the schools have separate toilets for girls. Basic education officer Neelam Yadav said village head or principals make arrangements to get the toilets cleaned on a daily basis. She said the toilet facility has helped more girl students turn up to schools. A Class 5 student in Dikholi said after construction of the toilet, she and her friends need not run back home to relieve themselves.
A Shahjahanpur report said there are 2,720 government schools, and new toilets and urinals in 2,704 of them were created last year. District basic education officer Surendra Singh said toilets are cleaned by panchayat safai karamcharis. He said toilets could not be constructed in some schools because of non-availability of land. Many parents in Bhai Jalalabad Bada blocks complained that toilets in schools remain locked for most of the time, forcing students to relieve themselves in nearby fields. In Baghpat, basic education officer Kirti said schools in the district already have separate toilets for boys and girls. Principal of a government school in Baghpat Ashutosh Mishra said toilets are cleaned daily.
A Meerut report said enrolment has increased in schools due to construction of additional toilets for girls. The district basic education officer Harendra Sharma said there are 1,072 government schools out of which 32 are run out of rented accomodations. He said while schools in government buildings have separate toilets for boys and girls, some schools functioning from rented premises have only one toilet. He said panchayats take care of their daily cleaning.
Hemlata, principal of a government school in Abdulpur block, said due separate toilets, girls registered more daily attendance compared to boys. Parents of some students of the school, however, complained that toilets are not cleaned daily.