BENGALURU: At a time when the nation is moving towards Open Defecation-Free status, education officials in Karnataka are still not sure if all government schools in the state have toilets. In a shocking revelation five months ago, a primary education department report had said that 4,197 schools out of 48,188 government schools in the state did not have toilets. These include 2,847 boys’ and 1,350 girls’ schools.
In an order available with The New Indian Express, in July, the chief secretary T M Vijay Bhaskar had instructed his subordinate officials to use NREGA funds to construct toilets by September 30, to ensure 100 per cent toilet availability.
He said that each year, the schools get funds for drinking water and toilet facilities through the headmaster. However, since the funds were not used for these 4,197 schools, he demanded that the unused amount be returned to the government’s kitty.
He also instructed the deputy directors (administrative) of the state to create a WhatsApp group and hold a survey every week to come out with a list of schools without toilets. Toilets were to be built in proportion to the number of students in these government schools.
As a measure to counter the lack of toilets, a progress report on whether government primary and high schools in the districts have toilets, was to be submitted to the commissioner of public instruction for action against those DDPIs who have not ensured toilets in schools that come under their ambit. All districts in Karnataka were to be open defecation free by Gandhi Jayanthi.
However, when TNIE visited the commissioner of public instruction on Tuesday about the progress, the buck was passed to the District Information System for Education (DISE) which only supplied data up to March 2019, and which painted a rosier picture — just 698 primary schools and 45 high schools did not have toilets. The official said data is not collected on a monthly basis.
The Commissioner of Public Instruction admitted that as on October 1, the data available with DISE was the only data available. When asked about the updated data for gauging progress, the commissioner only said, “Whatever we have, we have given, now you can decide what you want to do with it (the outdated data).”