Students of Vishwo Niketan Higher Secondary School are compelled to use dirty toilets and drink unsafe drinking water
Schools lack Adequate Sanitation
Bijayta Shrestha, 13, and Nirjala Magar, 11, are students of grade six in VishwoNiketan Higher Secondary School. Being part of After School Program conducted by Guthi, they are well aware about the importance of personal hygiene and drinking safe water.
However, for them what they learnt from school and Guthi are hard to apply in their own school due to lack of adequate clean toilets and management of safe drinking water in the premises.
“I hardly use school toilets as they are dirty and they don’t have water to flush,” complained Bijayta. She further said, “Walls of toilets are full of obscene sketches and write ups with no water taps. Although there is a tank outside to fetch water and a mug inside the toilet, students hardly can use them due to hesitation.”
According to her, there are altogether 1 toilet for girls and 3 for boys in the school. Girls toilets are scattered of used menstrual pads and stinks like nothing. Despite having bins to properly dispose used menstrual pads, Bijayta said, “Senior girls just scattered used sanitary pads everywhere in toilets. I don’t know why they can’t just dispose it in the bin.”
Due to lack of water in toilets, students can’t flush the toilet after use resulting foul smell and hard to use next time. Limited toilets and maximum users not only resulted for poor hygiene but also hampered in students’ study. Students are not allowed to go to toilet anytime, the school has allocated two short breaks of five minutes to go to toilet. As the bell rings, students are compelled to stay in long queue awaiting their turns not considering cleanliness of toilets. Bijayta said, “Many times awaiting our turns, bell for class rings and we are chased to our class without relieving ourselves."
Nirjala also complained about dirty toilets and poor management of sanitation in the school. "We have been taught to flush toilet with water after every use, washing hands with soap but in our school we have neither water nor soap to use," she said in her disappointment. Asking about the toilet cleaner, she said, "Our toilets get cleaned once in two weeks. There is a staff named Chorimaiya who is assigned for the job."
Toilets are not only the challenge for sanitation in the school, students also face problem of safe drinking water. About drinking water Nirjala said, "The school provides tasteless water for us to drink which is used for bathing by school staffers." She added, "This is why we carry our own water bottles from home. In case we finish off our bottles we better drink from friend’s bottle than drinking water from the school tap." As another option, students go to canteen to drink water.
In her school, there are 5 taps allocated for drinking purpose of which two taps are broken, one is not working and only two taps are in working condition. As per her knowledge, the water in tank is filled from tanker.
Keeping in mind about girl's menstrual hygiene, the school has managed to keep stock of sanitary pads. Students have to buy a sanitary pad in case of need by paying Rs 5 from administration.
Bijayta and Nirjala both opined that they need the school to manage safe drinking water, proper water system for using toilet, soap to wash their hands, awareness to dispose used sanitary pads and toilets to be cleaned every alternative day.
Located in Tripureshwor, the school has total 2,095 students. Though the school policy clearly mentioned that there should be a provision of 1 toilet for 50 students in school, it has not met yet. Students are compelled to follow unhygienic behaviors as the government and the school management is not concerned about the water and sanitation issues and their impacts on students' health. There are still adequate rooms to uplift water, sanitation and health issues in the school.