|Image source: Microsoft Research|
Via Microsoft Research
Toilets play a key role in the overall functioning of a school. It is hard to imagine a school functioning efficiently without a set of toilets. According to UNICEF, “education for girls can be fostered by something as basic as a girls-only toilet”. Even in cases where schools have toilets, they will be unusable unless they are clean, private and functional. Currently, there is an extensive database on elementary education in India called District Information System for Education (DISE). It has school ‘report cards’ of more than 1.3 million schools providing qualitative and quantitative information about them. However, these only mention whether the school has toilets for boys and for girls. This can be misleading because even if a school has separate toilets for boys and girls, they could be unusable due to various reasons.
In an initial set of informal visits to 8 schools in the Shivajinagar, Frazer Town and KG Halli areas of Bangalore, we got the impression that toilets were an integral part of the school’s infrastructure. In some cases, the poor condition of toilets affected attendance and enrollment at the school, especially for girls. One of the school headmasters (HM) complained that parents are reluctant in sending their daughters to school if there are no separate toilet facilities for them. The boys at the school would urinate in open-air at a corner of the school ground.
In order to get a deeper understanding of the toilet infrastructure in government schools, Microsoft partnered with Akshara Foundation to carry out a survey of 36 schools in Bangalore. The results were quite thought provoking and required lots of working on.
Read the complete article here.