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In pursuit of swacchata in govt school toilets


PANAJI: Finding that the toilets in the government schools around the state are in unhygienic condition as compared to those in the aided schools, the education department will soon resend a proposal to the government as regards revising the existing terms, thus allowing the wet sweepers working on daily wages in the government schools to double as peons with regular salary.

The existing terms supports a system wherein the government schools pay the wet sweepers certain amount for cleaning every room. These terms do not allow recruitment of a wet sweeper working in a school as peon for a salary ranging between Rs 3,500 and Rs 4,000.

“We had proposed to the government to consider such an arrangement. However, the proposal came back as the number of government schools is on the higher side,”  education director G P Bhat informed this daily, pointing out that there are over 800 government schools, including around 700 government primary schools, in Goa. “We are now resending the proposal to government, recommending that the existing terms should be revised,” he said, adding that if the government agrees for the same, then the schools would not be required to recruit additional workforce for the purpose.

Presently, all aided as well as government schools in Goa have separate toilets for male and female students, as per U-DISE (unified district information system for education), which is a database of information about schools in India, as made available by the ministry of human resource development.

“If any school requires a toilet or need to repair the existing one then the central government provides funds for the construction/ repair of the same through the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan,” the director of education informed, observing that the problem comes when funds are needed to maintain these toilets, as the central government does not provide any money for the purpose.

“Therefore, the state government as per its existing norms, provides an amount between Rs 1,500 and Rs 2,000 to every aided as well as government school for cleaning their toilets,” he revealed, maintaining that with such a miniscule remuneration, the wet sweepers clean the toilets once a day, and that too at any time of the day, which does not serve the purpose.

Bhat stated that the situation is better in the aided Konkani and Marathi primary schools, which receive special monthly grant of Rs 400 per student as an incentive for imparting education in mother tongue. “Therefore, these schools have money at their disposal and can afford to employ a fulltime wet sweeper, who can clean the school toilets multiple times, during the day,” he mentioned, noting that the government schools face problem as they are not entitled to this special monthly grant.

It is ironical that when Prime Minister Narandra Modi is putting in all efforts to make a countryside success of his Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the toilets in the government schools in Goa are left stinking most part of the day due to lack of funds.

Fortunately, the Prime Minister has nominated Governor Mridula Sinha as a brand ambassador for the Abhiyan and her urgent intervention could ensure that the young students studying in the state government schools will no more find the school toilets repulsive.

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