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Government schools work to improve sanitation

924 Delhi-government run schools have started working on fixing dysfunctional toilets and other basic infrastructure.

Vatsala Shrangi  New Delhi | 6th Sep 2014

elhi government schools are finally getting their act together to fulfil Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of better sanitation facilities for girls, which he outlined in his Independence Day speech. In a major clean-up act, 924 Delhi-government run schools have started working on fixing dysfunctional toilets and other basic infrastructure. Recently, Padmini Singla, director, Delhi government's Directorate of Education (DoE), sent a letter to the heads of schools asking them to improve basic amenities in schools.

An inspection of the schools by the DoE noted that "in most places, the girls' toilets do not have door latches; the water supply is inadequate, are poorly lit and dirty". Also, they found that many schools do not have playgrounds, swings or even paints on the walls. The DoE has released a sum of Rs 10 cr in the preceding months to repair the "dysfunctional" toilets for both boys and girls. "We will ensure that all heads of schools get the repair work done and maintain the basic hygiene in the premises. Frequent inspection of schools in all districts will be taken up by the department," said a senior DoE official. The condition of toilets for girls, in most of these schools has been poor, leading to a high dropout rate, according to DoE officials.

The letter sent to all schools in the wake of the Prime Minister's 68th Independence Day speech, stated, "I have been communicating to you, repeatedly, to improve the basic infrastructure in the schools. On 24/04/2014, I had specifically issued a circular to improve the condition of toilets. Despite the clear instructions, some heads of schools have turned a deaf ear to these directions."

It further said, "I visited three schools in the same district...where in tow of these schools in most classrooms there was not a single fan/tube/bulb in running condition. I found no posters, drawings, information displayed on walls in classrooms, notice boards or display boards were also not there."

Meanwhile, the DoE, which had also issued show-cause notices to two principals for the "poor" state of basic amenities. "A cleanliness drive is always undertaken in the preceding week of I-Day. We have started the repair work needed in some of the school toilets. Water supply here has been erratic, which was a major issue owing to which cleanliness could not be maintained. However, we have placed this problem before the DoE and they told us that it will be rectified as per the ongoing sanitation drive," said Gautam Puri, principal of a government girls' senior secondary school in the Northeast district.

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