An appeal for clean toilets has turned into a nightmare for students of six government schools in Delhi’s Trilokpuri area.
About 2,500 government school students wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 14, appreciating his focus on cleaning toilets in schools and telling him about the bad state of toilets in their schools.
In a bizarre turn of events, these 2,500 students are now being pressured by their schools to write another letter to the PM, saying the toilets are clean and that they were forced by the organisation to write to him.
The director of education chose not to comment on the matter.
The signature campaign was started by Joint Operation for Social Help (JOSH), an organisation that works in the field of education with special focus on the Right to Education Act.
Copies of the 2,500 letters were also marked to the L-G, the director of education and the MP of the area.
“After we wrote to the PM, the condition of the toilets improved for a couple of days.
It is now marginally better but the school has come down heavily on us.
All the students who had signed the letter, including me, were called to the principal’s office where they first scolded us and then made us write another letter stating that were forced by JOSH to complain against the state of toilets and that the toilets are clean,” said a student of one of the six schools on the condition of anonymity.
The original complaint had highlighted how the toilets were not cleaned regularly and that there were either no taps or no water in school toilets.
“The response of schools by exposing the names of students who had registered their appeal, points at two things; first, the grievance redressal system is a sham and second the issue of protection of the whistle blower.
If signing an appeal can result in such harassment and witch hunt, one can imagine the response to more serious issues of corporal punishment and abuse,” said Saurabh Sharma, member, JOSH.