Common toilets for boys, girls and security personnel in this Bihar school
The Bihar State Women’s Commission (BSWC) has now instructed the state education department to evict security personnel, start separate shifts for boys and girls.Updated: Nov 16, 2019 09:51 IST
Girls at one of the oldest government-run school in Bihar’s Patna have been skipping classes for quite some time now.
The reason behind their reluctance to come to school has been the absence of separate toilets in the school building.
They are being forced to share a toilet with boys from another school on the same campus, as well as security forces, who have been camping there for months now.
Located on Bazaar Samiti Road near Moin-ul-Haq Stadium in the city, the Bapu Smarak Girls’ High School was originally set up in Kadamkuan locality by former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri’s sister, Sundari Devi in the 1950s.
It was shifted to the Government Boys’ High School on Bazaar Samiti Road at Rajendra Nagar in 2012 as the girls’ school building was in a bad shape and needed repair. But the separate infrastructure required for the girl students were not arranged.
The institution has more than 1000 boys and girl students on its rolls.
The principal of Bapu Smarak Girls’ High School, Meenakshi Jha, said the school building has two washrooms, one on the ground floor and another on the first floor.
The restroom on the ground floor is being used by the security forces, who have been camping there for the last several months. The security personnel also often use the first-floor restroom.
“As the ground floor washroom has remained occupied by the cops for the last one year, all the girls, boys and even teachers have been compelled to share the first-floor washroom. Visit the school and you may witness the long queue at the washroom entrance,” she said.
Girls feel embarrassed and many have even stopped coming, she added.
Abhishek Kumar, a science and sports teacher at Bapu Smarak said, many girls have also stopped participating in sports activities.
“The girls who dropped out from sports teams said they didn’t feel comfortable sharing playground with the boys,” he said.
Authorities said students were managing as teaching hours of both the schools were different.
However, a circular from the education department recently said that both the schools should have the same teaching hours. Since then boys and girl have been attending school at the same time.
Dayanand ji, principal of the boys’ section said, they were told that the security forces would occupy the hall on the ground floor for only a month.
“It’s almost a year now, but they are still here. Rather their volume has also increased and even the school library and laboratory too have been occupied by them. The hall was meant for organising cultural and other extracurricular activities. With the cops there, all activities have stopped,” he said.
The principal said he has requested the district administration several times to free the school building through several letters but to no avail.
The deplorable condition, especially of the girl students, came to fore when a team of the Bihar State Women’s Commission (BSWC) led by its president Dilmani Mishra visited the school on Friday following complaints from various people about the presence of security forces in the school, a practice banned by the Supreme Court long time ago.
“It’s shocking to know that girls and boys at a school have to share the same washroom. They should have separate facilities,” Mishra said.
“The education department officials should have visited the school before passing on any instructions. I have directed the district education officer, Patna to withdraw his instructions and allow the two schools to have separate teaching shifts,” she said.
“The girls told me how embarrassing it had been for them to fetch water from the taps while the cops took bath there,” she said.
The commission has now asked the education department to ensure that security forces camping in the Bapu Smarak Girls’ High School vacate the premises immediately.
The commission has also suggested authorities to start separate shifts for boys and girls.