Hygiene low in girls' hostels, says report

Poor menstrual hygiene, lack of life skills have affected their education

These are some of the stark findings of field studies recently conducted in girls hostels in Karnataka, by Centre for Environment Education (CEE) and IL&FS Education and Technology Services Ltd.

The study indicates that sanitation and hygiene are a critical area of concern in the hostels, where issues like menstrual hygiene, sanitation, hygiene practices, cleanliness in the surroundings, lack of life skills, have in fact hindered the educational prospects of the girls residing in these hostels, run by the department of Social Welfare.

The agencies visited three hostels located in Shidlaghatta in South Karnataka, Baad in Coastal Karnataka and Shahpur in North Karnataka.

It was also observed that the students lacked confidence, they were unable to follow instructions properly, their presentation skills were below average, and their element of life skills to supplement their formal education was missing.

To improve living conditions, and their educational prospects, the department along with UNICEF, launched a joint programme ‘Accelerating Girls’ Education’, in partnership with CEE and IL & FS Education and Technology Services Ltd.

A proposal to support 309 pre-matric girls' hostels over three years has been drawn up, for which UNICEF will spend Rs one crore initially, said Social Welfare Minister A Narayanaswamy. As a pilot project, a one-year intervention programme will be launched in 34 pre-matric hostels with 6,000 odd students in four districts, namely Bangalore Urban and Rural, Chikkaballapur and Ramanagar. The department will scale up the project in the remaining pre-matric hostels across the state subsequently.

Misuse of funds

Principal Secretary SWD, E Venkataiah said that despite large amounts being allocated by the State Government, qualified personnel being hired and training being imparted, the level of improvement in the hostels were not upto the mark.

"Despite spending so much, the results aren't encouraging. Misuse of funds, attitudinal problems, indiscipline among the wardens, lack of hygiene in kitchens and toilets, are extensive in hostels across the State. This is resulting in the decline of pass percentages and health conditions of the students," added Venkataiah.

He also said that a decision has been taken to set up 114 residential schools in the State, as studies have shown that quality food, shelter and education when provided, the pass percentage in schools have gone beyond 80 to 90 per cent.

Satellite-based education in all hostels

The department of Social Welfare will introduce satellite-based education in all the hostels in the State, starting with hostels in Bangalore Urban and Rural, where the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) will spend Rs five crore.

The department is in the process of developing content for courses in science, mathematics and English language to be relayed to the students in the hostels between 6 pm and 8 pm. This is being done with the assistance of Ambedkar Research Institute, Karnataka Residential Education Society and experts from education department. The department has set aside a budget of Rs 10 crore to 15 crore for this programme to be implemented in 1272 hostels in Karnataka.

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