KL NEWS NETWORK
On April 21, 2016, South Kashmir’s Islamabad district was awarded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for excellence in implementation of Swachh Vidyalaya Scheme, under which all schools in District Islamabad had been covered with toilet facility with separate arrangement for girl students.
But moving calendar just nine days back, the ‘inaccessibility’ of a toilet in school led to the alleged molestation bid in Handwara town in North Kashmir. The aftermath saw five persons dead with complete shutdown and curfew for a week.
The school where the Handwara girl student studies has the toilet facility but the same “remains locked.”
However, Dr Shah Faesal, Director Education Kashmir told Kashmir Life, “this particular school has eleven-toilets and all of them are in use.”
By the end of 2015, the Jammu and Kashmir government said that 15,387 toilets were built in schools across the state under Swachh Vidyalaya Abhiyan – a GoI initiative led by PM Narendra Modi.
“Under Swachh Bharat-Swachh Vidyalaya Programme (SBSVP), all the schools have been provided toilet facilities,” Minister of State for Education, Priya Sethi, said in Jammu in December 2015.
Even after construction of such toilets, most of the students, mostly from rural areas allege that they are not allowed to use them.
Shabeena (name changed), a class 9th drop-out from a government school in Bandipora shares a similar story. “We had toilet facility in our school but it always remained locked. Every day it was not possible to find a secluded place that too when a boys’ school was around,” she said, “I found it dignified to leave studies!”
But Dr Faesal said, “In last one year, there is a complete change. Every government school in sarkari building has toilets, and separate facility for girl students.”
He said that Jammu and Kashmir has ‘exceptionally’ performed well under Swachh Vidyalaya Scheme. “All 10,000 schools in Kashmir division have toilet facilities.”
But a report by the Department of School Education and Literacy (DISE) under Union Ministry of Human Resource Development, observed that out of 23,234 schools in JK, 14,116 schools are without toilet facilities.
“The number of schools in state without toilet facilities for girls is 6,294, while the schools for boys without toilet facilities are 7,822, as per the report,” the report read, “schools having dysfunctional girls’ and boys’ toilets are 2,797 and 2,553 respectively.”