The tragic death of a Class II student in Ganjam district has prompted the School and Mass Education department to impose restrictions on the movement of students outside the school campuses.
In a letter to all the District Education Officers, District Project Coordinators and District Inspector of Schools, Commissioner-cum-Secretary Usha Padhee has instructed that no child should be allowed to go out during school hours.
On February 5, Aruna Munni, a Class II student of Matha Barida Primary School under Beguniapada block, drowned in a water tank when she went to attend nature’s call. The little girl apparently did not use the school toilet since it was either locked or not in a usable condition.
In her letter, Padhee noted that toilets meant for children are left unused or locked during the school hours prompting the students to go out. “Toilets found locked during school hours or disallowed to students for use will be viewed seriously,” the letter said.
While schools have been asked not to allow children to go outs during school hours, emphasis has been laid on enhancing sanitary awareness through school cabinet. Besides, the existing toilets must be kept in usable condition with the source of water, the letter said.
In fact, the department has already put in place a set of norms that guide water and sanitation norms in the schools to make them compliant to Right to Education (RTE). As per the norms, toilets for boys and girls are to be separated. There has to be one toilet for every 40 girls and one urinal for every 20 girls. Each toilet and urinal must have doors and basic facilities with bucket, mug and water taps. The same applies for boys too. The norms also stipulate hand-washing facility with one tap for every 20 students with soaps.
Provision for source of safe drinking water is high on the agenda. There has to be at least one source inside the school premises and must be at a distance of 10 metres from the toilet soak pit. Besides, a water storage tank of minimum 500 litres must be made available for every 100 children.