With women and child abuse being much in the news, a new study by the human resource development (HRD) ministry has revealed that over 620,000 primary and upper primary schools in India lack separate toilets for girls.
According to the survey conducted jointly by HRD ministry, UNICEF and the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NEUPA), only 37.42 per cent of schools in India have girls' toilets.
"Though the percentage of schools having girls' toilets has increased from 28.24 per cent in 2003 to 37.42 per cent in 2006, yet the situation is quite dismal," said Arun C Mathur, chief researcher of the report.
Among the states, Meghalaya is at the bottom of the tally with just 7.71 per cent of schools having girls' toilets. Only 9.58 per cent schools in Assam, 9.81 per cent in Chhattisgarh, 11.69 per cent in Arunachal Pradesh, 11.78 per cent in Bihar and 12.4 per cent schools in Orissa have separate toilets for girls.
Shockingly, the study found that less than 25 per cent schools in 13 states have separate girls' toilets.
However, Chandigarh tops the chart with 89.19 per cent of its schools having toilets for their female pupils. While Delhi stands second with 87.82 per cent, 80 percent schools in Pondicherry and 69.41 per cent schools in Uttar Pradesh have toilets for girl students.
NEUPA vice chancellor Ved Prakash said: "In the 21st century, these figures are startling. I hope the government and the private sector running these schools would take up the issue seriously. Our girls need separate toilets, and that is the reality."
The survey, Elementary Education in India, covered over 1.1 million primary and upper primary schools across 604 districts of India.
Apart from toilets, tens of thousands of schools lack basic teaching facilities like blackboards and a building.
Leave aside computers, a total of about 88,000 schools (nearly eight per cent) in the country still do not have a blackboard in their classes.
While 36.65 per cent of schools in Sikkim do not have a blackboard, nearly 26 per cent in Jharkhand and 30 per cent schools in Arunachal Pradesh need blackboards. In the Indian capital, 10.8 per cent of schools do not have a blackboard.
However, all schools in Nagaland have blackboards. The figure is 99.5 per cent in West Bengal, 99.46 in Assam and 98.61 per cent in Maharashtra. As much as 97.8 per cent schools in Uttar Pradesh have blackboards.
Nearly five per cent of schools in India don't have school buildings - and about 97 per cent are government schools.