HYDERABAD: As many as 8,980 (21.2 per cent) schools across the State don’t have functional toilets for girls, revealed data provided by the Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE) of the Ministry of Education.
The figure is particularly shocking as Telangana stands second in the list with four other States — Assam, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha — that account for 50 per cent of the total non-functional toilets for girls in schools across the country.
The national average of 5.3 per cent, which is 78,854 schools, ends up impacting the health of over 70 lakh girls, according to UDISE data visualised by Stats of India, a data visualisation firm run by a Mumbai-based data science engineer.
“Across India, 26.5 crore children study in 14.9 lakh schools. If we assume that 48 per cent of those are girl students, 78,000 schools have an estimated 70 lakh girls, who are affected by the lack of separate functional toilets,” a tweet by the firm said.
“The lack of toilets severely impacts girls as they avoid drinking water or eating food due to the fear of using dirty toilets. This is inhumane and a violation of child rights,” said R Venkat Reddy, national convenor of MV Foundation, which works on the issue of child rights. A lot of girls drop out of school, especially when they start menstruating, due to this, he added.
The Right to Education Act, 2009, made it mandatory for schools to build separate toilets for boys and girls. It had a five-year grace period for the States to implement the Act. However, several States, including Telangana, are still lagging behind.
Telangana also falls behind when it comes to toilets for boys in schools. According to the UDISE, 17.2 per cent of schools in Telangana, higher than the national average of 3.5 per cent, don’t have any functional toilets.
“Investment in education in the State budget has decreased tremendously in the last eight years. As there is no investment, infrastructure is being hampered,” said Venkat Reddy.“In 2014, the State government used to spend 10 per cent of its annual budget on education which has now been decreased to six to seven per cent,” he added.
UP, Bihar rank better in availability of toilets
UDISE data shows that a lot of north Indian States, such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, which are usually termed as backward, have a higher availability of functional toilets compared to Telangana. According to the information provided by PRS India, an independent nonprofit research institute, out of the total budget, Telangana has earmarked only 7.3 per cent, the least in all States, for education.The number of dysfunctional or non-operating toilets will be much higher than what has been shown in the UDISE data, Venkat Reddy said.