Almost every school in India has some sort of sanitation facility, but is it enough?

  • In a joint report by The United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organization (WHO), Indiathe education system of sanitation facilities.
  • Until ten years ago, only half of the schools had some kind of solution which has now grown to almost every school in India having some sort of on-campus sanitation facility.
  • While this may be good news, India still has a long way to go to provide even the most basic hygiene solutions in schools.

Until recently, India’s education system suffered from a lack of sanitation facilities. But, according to a
new joint report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Joint Monitoring Program of the United Nations Children’s Fund (JMP), the scenario has changed dramatically.

According to their analysis, almost all schools in India now have some sort of sanitation facility. Until a decade ago, only half of schools nationwide had on-campus hygiene facilities.

In a country like India, sanitation facilities play a key role in increasing girls’ school attendance while creating a healthy learning environment. According to the report, girls are more likely to miss school when on their period if there are no toilets. That’s five days a month peaking at almost two full months in a year.

Dedicated toilets are generally frowned upon in rural areas due to societal perception of solid waste as unsanitary in areas where people live. India Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan (SBA), a street cleaning and sanitation improvement mission Infrastructure to Indian cities, could be seen as driving a growing awareness that challenges this misconception.

Sanitation and India

Progress on this front responds to Goal 6 of the sustainable development goals (SDG) which deals with drinking water and sanitation. Specifically, Goal 6 aims to end open defecation by 2030.

More than that, increasing sanitation facilities meets Goal 4, which ensures inclusive and equitable quality education and promotes lifelong learning opportunities for all.

That being said, the reality of the situation is a bit bittersweet. Despite national guidelines on menstrual waste management, only 66% of schools in India have some kind of menstrual hygiene education integrated into their curriculum.

Looking at the number of schools equipped with trash cans with lids for disposal of sanitary ware, the percentages varied from state to state. Developed areas like Chandigarh have bins with lids in 98% of schools while their less developed counterparts like Chattisgarh only have 36% coverage.

Additionally, Mizoram is the only state to have functioning incinerators for sanitary waste disposal in more than 50% of its schools.

Even though something as basic as clean water is only present in 30% of schools in India. And only a third of schools have some form or another of the most basic types of sanitation facilities.

While the increase and pace of sanitation is encouraging, there are still 900 million children in India who go to school with nowhere to go washing their hands.

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