Cleanliness – A Basic Right
A lack of proper access to sanitation facilities poses a huge hindrance to schooling and education as students, especially girls, frequently miss school due to the fear of hygiene-related issues. To reduce the usage of washrooms, girls choose to limit their consumption of fluids and food, which are possible channels to malnourishment and can eventually result in them dropping out of educational institutes. For adolescent girls, a separate, clean toilet can become an important factor in choosing to continue with schooling.
SRF Foundation, under its Rural Education Program focusses on transforming schools through infrastructural, academic and digital advancements. Specifically, under the infrastructural changes, facilities like drinking water stations, BaLA paintings, libraries, science labs and clean and separate toilets for boys and girls are built to promote education in rural and semi-urban areas.
Manglesh, a student of Grade 8th from Mewat (Haryana) took the lead and stated that the physical transformation of the schools and the availability of toilets, has encouraged children, especially girls, to attend school and remain in the education system for a longer period of time. The discouragement of sending young girls to school was prevalent due to the fact that boys and girls have to share the toilets in school which was discomforting for parents. Witnessing the transformation around the schools helped parents have faith in sending their girls to school. She also mentioned that it has enhanced the level of satisfaction, peace and a sense of comfort in students including herself knowing that now they can use these facilities whenever they want with no fear of an invasion to their privacy and a right to cleanliness.