Edu dept to outsource upkeep of school toilets

Edu dept to outsource upkeep of school toilets to local bodies: minister

The state government will outsource the maintenance of school toilets to panchayats and urban local bodies, Primary and Secondary Education Minister S Suresh Kumar told the Legislative Assembly on Thursday. 

Kumar told the House during question hour that the government would take up a special drive to ensure that all public schools have functional toilets this year. 

The minister’s reply came when members across party lines complained about poor infrastructure in government schools. To a question by former JD(S) minister Bandeppa Kashempur, Kumar said only 840 out of 48,008 government schools did not have toilets.

“Going by the government’s claim, 98% schools have toilets. As MLAs, we know what the situation is. It’ll be great if even 50% schools have toilets,” Kashempur said. He challenged the government’s claim that all government schools had electricity. 

When Congress’ H K Patil said maintenance of school toilets should be delegated to the panchayats because the education department lacked the required machinery, Kumar concurred.

“We will talk to gram panchayats in rural areas and city corporations in urban areas for this,” the minister said.

“We are aware of infrastructure shortcomings,” Kumar said. “But when it comes to toilets, we are working on a war footing. We know that there aren’t separate toilets for boys and girls everywhere. We know that some existing toilets have become dysfunctional. This year, we have decided to give special focus to toilets,” he said, adding that toilets were being built under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee
Scheme as well. 

According to Kumar, the government has estimated a requirement of Rs 4,000 crore to meet all infrastructural needs of public schools. To a suggestion by Congress’ R V Deshpande to tap into corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds, Kumar said, “We’ve already discussed with some top industrialists. But CSR funds will not be much in terms of what we need, and most of it will be concentrated in and around Bengaluru.” 

Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah said the school toilets lacked maintenance. “The toilet of the primary school where I studied became dysfunctional in just two months,” he said.

“Also, more and more girls are attending school, which makes toilets all the more important. Back when I was in primary school, we were seven students and just one girl. Now, 50% of students are girls,” he said.

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