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KG to PG, but no WC? Telangana has the most govt schools without toilets, 37% with no tap water

Rajya Sabha data shows Telangana, Rajasthan & UP have poorest school infrastructure. CM K Chandrashekar Rao often accused of turning a blind eye to concerns of education sector.

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Hyderabad: Telangana bears the ignominy of being the state with the highest number of government schools with no toilets in India.

Of 30,023 state-run schools, as many as 2,124, or 7 per cent, are without toilets, while 11,124 schools, or around 37 per cent, do not have tap water facility, according to data produced in the Rajya Sabha Wednesday for 2021-2022.

The data was brought to light after Rajya Sabha member from Kerala Abdul Wahab posed a question on the condition of toilets, tap water and drinking water in government schools in all states and UTs in the country.

The state with the second poorest toilet infrastructure in India is Rajasthan, followed by Uttar Pradesh, but both fare much better than Telangana. Around 1.8 per cent of 68,948 schools in Rajasthan and 0.8 per cent of 1,37,024 schools in UP do not have toilets.

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao has been criticised in the past for turning a blind eye to the concerns of the education sector.

“The education sector has always been ignored by the chief minister, especially with respect to the funds allotted to it over the years,” retired IAS officer Akunuri Murali told ThePrint.

He estimates that more than 60 per cent of schools in Telangana do not have fully functional toilets. “Even though some government schools have toilets, the question is how many of them are fully functional with proper doors and windows, tap water facility and good maintenance?” Murali asked.

ThePrint reached Telangana Education Minister Sabitha Indra Reddy’s office with queries on the matter, but did not receive a response till the time of publishing this report. This report will be updated when a response is received.

According to the data presented in the Rajya Sabha, states and Union territories such as Chandigarh, Sikkim and Tamil Nadu had toilets in all government schools. Delhi, Goa and Andaman are also on this list.

Also read: TRS 2.0: KCR renames party Bharat Rashtra Samithi at ‘auspicious time’, aims to be ‘desh ka neta’

Girls at disadvantage 

In 2014, the year when Telangana was officially formed, KCR’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) had come to power on the promise of an education scheme ‘KG to PG’. It was announced in the party’s manifesto that education from kindergarten to post-graduate level would be free of cost. But the scheme drew flak over its implementation and fell short of expectations.

In March this year, the Telangana government launched a programme called ‘Mana Ooru Mana Badi’ (loosely translating to ‘Our village, our school’) aimed at improving school infrastructure and the quality of education in the state.

Under the scheme which is to be undertaken in three phases over three years the state government plans to develop 9,123 schools at a cost of Rs 3,497 crore in the first phase.

Although launched with much hype, the scheme has remained a slow-starter and has drawn criticism from the opposition Congress and academics.

“His (KCR’s) programmes and schemes for the education sector are purely vote-based and election-based. The implementation is questionable. Education and health are the least of his interests,” said Murali, who is also the convener of an independent organisation called the Social Democratic Forum, which is working for the uplift of government schools in Telangana.

As part of the organisation, he visited over 100 government schools in the state to monitor their condition.

The lack of toilets puts girls at a disadvantage. “In some cases, we found that high school girls do not drink water the entire day because there are no toilets and they will have to defecate openly. They drink water at their home before leaving and only do so again after returning from school,” Murali said.

Only 10 of the schools surveyed had toilets, he alleged, adding that “with the lack of toilets, several students defecate openly”.

In Telangana’s Adilabad, one of the underdeveloped districts of the state, 1,052 of 1,288 government schools do not have tap water facility, according to data given to the Rajya Sabha. And as many as 258 schools do not have toilets.

“Under KCR’s governance, the responsibility of maintaining government schools was given to the gram panchayats (GP.) The GP’s sanitation workers are not prompt with maintenance. There have been instances when school headmasters have put in money from their own pockets to get toilets cleaned,” Murali said.

His criticism echoed that of former Leader of Opposition in Telangana Legislative Council Mohammed Ali Shabbir, who had said at a Teachers’ Day programme in Hyderabad in September 2020 that the chief minister had ignored the education sector as well as teachers.

(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)

Also read: ‘TRS in Telangana, BRS elsewhere?’ KCR wants to go national, but his party leaders not in the loop

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