In many government-run schools in Indore, students are forced to relieve themselves in the open due to lack of clean toilets. At some schools, boys and girls are also forced to share lavatories.
These deplorable conditions came to light when HT visited various government schools across the city on Tuesday to find condition of their toilets. The findings not only exposed lacunae in the government’s effort to prevent open defecation in the country, but also raised serious question about protecting privacy of the students.
At the Government Primary and Middle School in Indore’s Gautampura area, all staff and students – both male and female--are forced to use the same toilets. To ensure privacy, the staff on their own have segregated the toilet into two sections for males and females.
The toilet at the two-storied building is clean and washed regularly. There is also no dearth of water. But the only issue here is of privacy.
A student of Class 6 Sonu Rathore said, “Toilets are cleaned daily. There is also never a problem with the availability of water. The only problem is that boys and girls have to use the same washroom.”
A teacher attributed the situation to space crunch. On the condition of anonymity he said, “The school is run on the first floor, while Indore division’s boys hostel for primary and middle schools occupies the ground floor. So, we have access to only one set of washroom with six water cabinets. We all use them.”
Some other schools have separate toilets for males and females but they are mostly unusable.
Government Naveen Urdu Middle School, Government Hindi Middle School, Government Urdu Primary School and Government Hindi Primary School are all housed in one campus in four separate buildings spread over the area of more than 10,000 square feet. The schools have separate sets of toilets for males and females.
However, only three out of four set of toilets are currently in use in the complex. Students say even the functional toilets are unusable.
“We (boys) defecate in the open behind the toilet because the toilets are not clean. Girls use the washroom meant for madams,” said a student.
A teacher of the Government Naveen Urdu Middle School refused to accept the student’s claim. “We have a water tank built for all the toilets and face shortage of water only during summers,” said Atul Kotwala, one of the teachers at the school.
The condition of toilet at the Government Hindi Middle School 24, behind Devlalikar Art Gallery is no better. The toilets are out of bound for staff and teachers. They are forced to go to the adjacent school to use the washroom.
The district education department expressed helplessness in maintaining clean toilets in the government-run schools as it is not getting any fund from the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC).
Indore District Education Officer (DEO) Anurag Jaiswal says, “Government schools have not received any fund from the IMC for cleaning toilets. In most of the schools there are no cleaners.”
Akshay Singh Rathore, District Project Coordinator (DPC), said adding to the problem, some locals use toilets meant for students and staff of the schools.
“We have asked schools to lock washrooms after school hours so that locals cannot use them. But even that does not help as the locals often break the locks.”