Recent directions by the deputy state project director, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) to ensure ‘clean’ and ‘hygeinic’ toilets in schools have put the school heads in a fix. In most of the government primary, middle, high and senior secondary schools in the district, the posts of sweepers are lying vacant, and in many schools there is no post at all.
The SSA deputy state project director has directed all the government school heads to ensure that the toilets in their respective schools are kept clean and also to make arrangements for water in the toilets. These directions have come as a repercussion to the reports sent to the Central government on ‘Swachh Vidyalaya Campaign’, which underline that in several schools, toilets are either found locked or in dilapidated condition, there is absence of water disposable mechanism and due to all these shortcomings, students are forced to relieve themselves in the open.
A government school principal requesting anonymity said, “We have strength of 900 students, 20 teachers and there is only one post of sweeper, which has also been lying vacant for the past several years.”
He said, “We have hired a person who cleans the classrooms and toilets and we are paying her salary from the payable-through account (PTA) funds. But she has been on leave for the past 15 days as she is suffering from dengue. Today only, we have hired another person.”
“There is an urgent need that the government fills the vacant posts, as every time they issue directions, the school heads are left in a quandary, as how to follow these.”
Another headmistress of a government middle school situated in peripheral area said, “We have two toilets for the strength of 150 students and there is no post for the sweeper. Ours’ being a middle school, we can’t charge any school fee from the students. We get only `4500 as school maintenance fund annually. A sweeper charges `2000 to `3000 per month and our teachers are paying from their pocket.”
HT Correspondent visited several government schools to check the condition of toilets and found that a few schools have only two toilets for a larger strength of students. There are no separate toilets for teachers and no post of sweeper in such schools. The government primary schools in Moti Nagar (122 students), in Chet Singh Nagar (264 students) and in Chhawani Mohalla (132 students) have two toilets.
A foul smell was emanating from the toilets at Government Senior Secondary School, Gobind Nagar.
When contacted, the district education officer (secondary), Paramjit Kaur Chahal said, “I agree posts of sweepers are lying vacant but schools have hired sweepers and are paying them from amalgamated funds.”