When the new UT adviser Parimal Rai took over, he listed the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and availability of clean toilets in all government schools as his priority projects. But it seems the project will be an uphill task for the new adviser as a ground reality check by this HT correspondent revealed the sorry state of affairs in toilets of the city’s government schools.
To begin with, Government Model High School, Khuda Jassu, did not have a functional flush in the girls toilet. The doors of both the boys’ and girls’ toilets were broken. Even more shocking was that a drinking water sink was located right outside the boys’ washroom and had standing water, putting students at risk to various diseases like malaria.
A teacher at the school, on the condition of anonymity, revealed that the school had a common washroom for the male and female staff. “There should separate washrooms for men and women. It becomes quite embarrassing,” she said.
The condition of the staff toilet, with an open entrance, was no better. School vice-principal Harpreet said, “We are aware of the condition of the toilets. We will address the situation soon.”
Another senior teacher of the school, requesting anonymity said, “The release of grants was a concern. We need the maintenance department’s assistance as it is not possible for the school authorites alone to ensure cleanliness.”
Khuda Lahora’s Government Model Senior Secondary School had nothing better to offer. With poor drainage system, the taps in these toilets were not functioning properly in the boys’ washroom.
Mops and phenyl bottles were seen lying in the sinks, from where students are supposed to drink water. However, the most appalling thing was that the school’s girls’ toilet had a water cooler and an aqua-guard placed in one corner. When viceprincipal Ramesh Kumar was asked about the same, he said, “If we place the aqua-guard outside, there’s no safety. So we need to have it inside the school building.” He further added that when one ran an educational institute, there were bound to be such problems.
When HT visited the government schools in Dhanas, it was observed that while the government senior secondary school didn’t even have a toilet as it was apparently ‘under -construction’ as was conveyed by one of the Class four employees there, the state of the toilets in Government Model High School, Dhanas, was abysmal, yet again.
With broken walls and doors and dysfunctional sinks and toilet flushes, these toilets are as good as not being there.
One of the students of the school told HT, “Sometimes, I have to wait to reach home to go to the washroom, at other times, I just sit on the floor in the toilet.”
The pathetic condition of toilets is not only limited to the periphery schools. The state of the toilets in government school, Sector 35 and government school, Sector 22 is equally worse.
A complaint against Government Senior Secondary School, Sector 22 has even reached the director of school education, throwing light on the poor infrastructure in washrooms as well as the stores and the lack of fencing in their adjoining playground.
While director school education Rubinderjit Singh Brar couldn’t be reached for a reaction, sources revealed that the education department had taken the adviser’s instructions in this regard very seriously.
While interacting with the administrative officials soon after taking charge, Rai had told the education department to pull up their socks and to deal with cleanliness on priority.
On the other hand, the primary schools that come under the municipal corporation have also made no effort in this aspect.
They were allocated Rs 20 crore last year out of which they only spent Rs 1.23 crore and hence the remaining money which could have been used for improving the infrastructure and state of toilets in these schools went unspent.
No principals seen in school
Meanwhile, it maybe interesting to add that as HT visited these five schools on Wednesday, the principals of none of these schools were present in the school.
While in two cases, the viceprincipals said the principals were on leave, in another case the principal was said to be in a meeting.
In the government schools in Dhanas, no administrative official or teacher of the school was aware as to why the principal was not in school.
While the UT education department has been trying to depute new or officiating members as principals in government schools so as to ensure discipline here, the ground reality in this case too, is quite the opposite.
Reason for pathetic condition of toilets (as per school authorities)
1) Lack of grants
2) Lack of manpower (sweepers, clerks)
3) Some schools ‘forgot’ to submit their proposals to the education department.
4) Lack of financial and physical help from the education department.
5) A principal of a government school said there should be a caretaker deputed in each school by the department for these things.
6) Civil engineering department officials don’t take the complaints submitted by schools seriously