State survey says 99% schools have toilets, TISS study debunks findings

A recent Tata Institute of Social Sciences study proves how rural Maharashtra and as a consequence, schools in these areas is still struggling for water and adequate sanitation facilities

If you were to go by the figures released recently through the District Information System for Education (DISE) report for the academic year 2014-2015, it’s time for the state’s education department to uncork the bubbly. According to the DISE report, almost 99 per cent of all schools across Maharashtra have toilets.

Major concerns for the education department include provision of basic sanitation facilities and drinking water. Pic for representational purpose
Major concerns for the education department include provision of basic sanitation facilities and drinking water. Pic for representational purpose

But a recent study conducted by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) has come as a sobering reality check. Almost 38 per cent of schools in the rural parts of the state do not have functional toilets, and the related parameters (see box) completely diss the DISE report.

RTE or bust
For years, schools have been struggling to adhere to all ten indicators of the Right to Education (RTE) Act (and one of the major concerns for the education department was the lack of basic sanitation facilities in all schools).

The TISS survey shows how the rural parts of Maharashtra - and as a consequence, the schools in these areas - are still struggling for water and proper sanitation facilities. Implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act has been of utmost importance to the education department and time and again, schools have been pulled up for flouting rules.

Of all the features made compulsory in schools, buildings, separate classrooms, kitchen sheds and sanitation facilities have been highlighted to be of utmost importance. Since the past two years, the education department has gone all out to ensure that schools across the state make provisions for drinking water as well as sanitation facilities for the benefit of children studying in the school.

Government speak
“The DISE data has been collected after doing a thorough survey of all schools, and we are confident about the figures. In a state like Maharashtra with over 1.06 lakh schools, even one per cent makes for thousand-odd schools.

Our aim is to ensure that all these schools build toilets at the earliest,” said P R Pawar, deputy director (system analytics), Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA). He added that officers from the education department as well as municipal corporations across the state have been asked to send notices to schools falling back on these compulsory RTE indicators.

The BMC recently sent notices to 200 schools for flouting RTE rules and regulations. “The focus is currently to ensure that all schools follow the basic criteria under RTE. Schools have time till the end of this month to ensure their schools have separate, functional toilets for boys and girls,” said a senior official from Pune.

Neglected hinterlands
Among the anganwadis and schools in these areas almost 40 per cent don’t have potable water; over 38 per cent don’t have functional toilets. “The focus needs to be on sustainable aspects of water sources, and awareness on the importance of clean water to every household and school,” said Dr S Ramesh Sakthivel, who along with Dr Niladri Sekhar Dhar, Anand Godkhe and Gopal Gore, authored this TISS study.

Damning statistics
>> Over 38% of schools don’t have functional toilets for students
>> Though 97.8% schools surveyed had toilets, only 62.2% were functional at the time of survey
>> Only 6% schools had some basic provision for assisting children with special needs in the toilets
>> The survey covered 960 households from 27 gram panchayats in rural parts of the state
>> It was conducted between November 2014 and April 2015, commissioned by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Government of India, and conducted as well as evaluated by TISS
>> The survey covered 960 households from 27 gram panchayats in rural parts of the state

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