At a time when crores of rupees are being spent across India to actualise Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s drive to make the country open defecation-free, five school girls in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh’s Satna district have left a state-run school in absence of a proper toilet.
Five Class 8 students - Sima Patel, Vandana Verma, Geetanjai Chaturvedi, Shiva Kumari and Shivanshi - recently left the Government Higher Secondary School in Bhishmapur village of the district, which is 445 km from Bhopal.
Bhishmapur village panchayat member Virendra Kumar Patel on Thursday said many more girl students of the school were planning to quit it due to absence of a toilet. He said they were planning to get enrolled in other schools in the district’s Amarpatan town, 20 km from the village.
One of the five girls Sima Patel, a resident of Bhishmapur village, alleged that the school has a separate toilet for girls but it has been locked since its construction last year.
“We’re forced to defecate in the open outside the school, but despite bringing the matter to knowledge of teachers, nothing has been done on it. I can’t study any longer in this school owing to which I have taken admission in another school in Amarpatan, which is 20 km away from my village,” said Sima.
Geetanjali Chaturvedi seconded Sima’s view and said: “The toilet meant for girls is locked since it was constructed last year. We only have two options, either to use a makeshift urinal, which doesn’t have water, or defecate in the open.”
Vandana Verma, a resident of Garhi Tola village, alleged that owing to absence of toilet, they had to defecate in open fields on the rear side of the school, which is embarrassing for her and her family both. “I will either give exam as a private student or study in other school of excellence.”
Bhishmapur panchayat member Patel said the Government Higher Secondary School in his village was the only state-run institution which caters to educational needs of 5-6 nearby villages. He said out of the 400-odd students enrolled in the school, 75% are girls.
When contacted by the media, school principal Amita Mishra denied that any girl student has left the school. She, however, admitted absence of a proper toilet for girls in the school. “I joined this school as principal in September 2015. My predecessor told me that the locked toilet is incomplete as it lacks water tank and water tap.”