WASH in Schools: What next, after 100% coverage?

On 15th August 2015, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MoHRD), Government of India, announced all schools in the country had toilets. In just a matter of months, nearly half a million toilets were made to reach the magical figure. A year before, the onus of ensuring adequate water and sanitation facilities, and imparting hygiene education, in schools had been shifted completely to MoHRD from the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS). This was to streamline WASH in Schools, fix responsibility and ensure resources.

Under the Swacch Vidyalaya (SV) programme, 417,796 toilets were made or fixed in a year

Of this, were new toilets 266,017; the rest were dysfunctional that needed to be fixed. There are a total of 1,448,712 schools in India. Private companies, according to the SV website, built 3416 toilets while public sector companies made 141636. Most work was to be done by the government. However, it seems private sector engagement has been under-reported as a perusal of the websites of companies that have implemented WASH in Schools (WinS) shows much higher figures; some of them do not figure on the SV website.

However, independent verifications of MoHRD’s claims[1] have shown there are still ‘uncovered’ schools. The largest study in 2016 by Pratham, an NGO working on education issues, shows even in 2016 3.5% schools did not have a toilet, and 27.8% were unusable[2]. The blind-spots are handwashing stations, the quality and frequency of hygiene education imparted to children and menstrual hygiene management facilities and education.

Against this background, the India Sanitation Coalition will hold a thematic online discussion about WASH in Schools in India. The discussion will run from 4 September – 23 September 2017 on the SuSanA Discussion Forum.

This discussion seeks your inputs on how to take WinS to an acceptable level where boys and girls have separate and adequate toilets, hand-washing facilities, hygiene is addressed in schools, and adolescent girls have usable menstrual hygiene facilities.

The issues we would seek your inputs on are:

  1. Discussion kick-off featuring two case stories from the Hindi Water Portal: What innovations have you come across in WinS by the government, companies or NGOs that are worth emulating? Mahesh Nathan from World Vision India will lead this topic (4 – 8 September)
  2. How has shifting the responsibility for WinS to MoHRD affected the condition of facilities and hygiene? What challenges remain and how can they be overcome? Arundhati Muralidharan, WaterAid, will lead this topic (9 – 13 September)
  3. How can companies contribute to WinS? What are examples of successful WASH contributions by companies? (14-18 September)
  4. Is the current monitoring system under DISE adequate and how can it be improved and tied to the SDGs? Srinivas Chary from the Administrative Staff College of India will lead this topic (19 – 23 September)

During the discussion, regular summaries of forum entries will be posted to keep you updated on our conversation. Coordination will be done by Nitya Jacob (SuSanA India Chapter Coordinator).

To join the discussion, follow: http://bit.ly/2xa7Ccq

And to read the first contribution by Mahesh Nathan, click on: http://bit.ly/2eGy05O

Copy of Addressing infrastructural barriers to MHM in schools to support inclusive and quality learning for all

[1] Studies by various development agencies and newspaper reports on status of WiNS that have indicated a large percentage of the surveyed toilets are dysfunctional even though most schools have toilets. Handwashing facilities are largely absent

[2] Annual State of Education Report, 2016. ASER Centre, Pratham, New Delhi.

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