Shri S. Suresh Kumar,
The Minister of Primary and Secondary Education and Sakala,
It’s heartening to see that the Centre has prioritised sanitation as one of the key items on the agenda. And women’s empowerment.
The Karnataka Government, specifically the Rashtriya Madhyamika Shiksha (RMSA) allocates as little as 25,000 per school annually for overall maintenance. This means as little as Rs 2,000 for all costs including painting, electricity, repairs and toilet maintenance. This is far from feasible, and as records reflect, this creates a situation where schools are forced to prioritise all other expenses, leaving the toilets on the back burner. Given the prioritisation process, often only teacher’s toilets are maintained and these are kept under lock and key.
This has resulted in girls dropping out of school to the tune of 63 percent. The dropout ratio is the highest in the age group of 11-13 when most girls hit puberty and the need for a clean, hygienic bathroom is higher than usual. The average cost for maintenance of bathrooms for a school - including the remuneration for someone to keep it clean is at least Rs. 15,000 a month.
India has been lagging behind significantly on both these issues. Yet these need to be seen together, through one lens given the strong correlation. The fact that Karnataka’s spending on toilets in schools is abysmal is point in case.
The Karnataka Government needs to ensure a budget allocation of 1656 Crores per annum (for 92,000 schools) specifically for girls toilets in schools to meet the twin objectives of women’s upliftment, education and improve sanitation levels in the state.