Dip in number of schools providing midday meals to their students
“About 20 per cent schools in India still lack toilet facilities for girls,” says a report recently released by the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
The report, titled Elementary Education in India, has also highlighted that enrolment of girls has come down to 48.20 per cent this year, as compared to last year’s 48.36 per cent. The enrolment of girls (from class I to V) has increased by a meagre 0.1 per cent from last year’s 48.35 to 48.36 this year.
The dismal state of sanitation facilities in schools has been brought to light by this report. While 94.45 per cent schools in the country have toilet facilities, only 92.64 per cent of these toilets are functional. Girls are a much more deprived lot as only 84.63 per cent of schools in India have toilet facilities for them, 91.62 per cent of which are functiona;. These figures mean that almost 20 per cent of schools have no toilets for girls.
Despite improvement in numbers, if compared to last year’s data, and the number of schools with toilets increasing by almost 12 per cent, experts seem dissatisfied. Last year, almost 81 per cent schools had toilets for boys and 72 per cent had facilities for girls. “These are sad figures. The norms should have been in compliance by March 21, 2013 as per the Right To Education Act, but we are trailing behind,” said Vinay Kantha, a Patna-based educationalist working on elementary education.
The report has brought to light another concern. The number of schools providing midday meals to their students has come down considerably. The figure stands at 88.60 per cent in 2013-2014 as compared to last year’s 94.83 per cent. There could be various reasons for the dip. The number of schools have increased considerably. But, these schools have not been able to incorporate the scheme due to long procedures and financial constraints.
“It could also be because of the bad name that the midday meal scheme has earned after the Chapra tragedy. The students are now scared to avail it,” explained Kantha.
“The government is coming up with new ways and policies but there is lot more to be done. The trends need to be studied and the issues addressed,” added the educationist.
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