Only three out of 520 schools met 90 per cent of the norms prescribed by CBSE

The grim performance of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) schools that had applied for the school sanitation rating under the Boards’ National School Sanitation Initiative has once again drawn attention to the lack of adequate sanitation facilities in schools.

According to CBSE’s website, only three out of 520 schools that applied for the rating met 90 per cent of the norms prescribed by the Board while 16 out of 19 schools in Tamil Nadu got red rating indicating that they did not meet even one-third of the standards. None of the schools from Coimbatore figured in the list while schools from Tirupur, the Nilgiris, Thiruvannamalai and Thirunelveli scored red.

Parents and teachers pointed out that the sanitation facilities in most of the private, Government, Government-aided schools were much below the expected standard. As per the Tamil Nadu Recognised Private Schools (Regulation) Rules, 1974, schools should obtain certificate from the local health authority stating that they had adequate sanitary facilities for teachers and students.

According to officials from the Education Department, Coimbatore, private and Government-aided schools had to renew their certificates every year. The health officials visited the schools before giving the approval, but the procedure was not necessary in the Government schools. The current ratio followed by the Department was one toilet unit for around 200 students. Whereas, the ratio suggested by CBSE was one urinal for 20 girls and boys separately, the officials added.

According to CBSE, lack of maintenance of washrooms, water supply and unclean surroundings were the reasons for poor rating. The management of schools in the city said they complied with the instructions given by CBSE and had submitted the certificates obtained from the health officials as they had to renew the licence of the school every three years.

The officials from CBSE, Regional Office, Chennai, said that all the schools under the Board should send sanitary certificates which would be scrutinised by the Board in around six months.

General secretary of Tamil Nadu Nursery, Primary, Matriculation and Higher Secondary Schools Welfare Association, Coimbatore, G. Krishnaraj said the association had repeatedly filed complaints with the education officials to draw attention to the discrepancies in giving No Objection Certificates to schools.

Chairman of Students Welfare Association of Parents, Coimbatore, R. Mani Mohan said, “The Government schools within the Corporation limits had comparatively better sanitation facilities while hygiene aspects of schools in rural areas remained poor.”

Though the Government allotted funds for construction of toilets and providing drinking water facilities through Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the slow pace of work, lack of maintenance and unavailability of water left the sanitation facilities poor. The members of Tamil Nadu B.T. Teachers Association suggested that more attention should be given to the maintenance of facilities provided under SSA.

The Ministry of Human Resource Development’s National School Sanitation Manual suggested that staggered intervals for different classes would help reduce the rush during break-time when the toilet facilities were inadequate. Mr. Manimohan pointed out that schools in the city which lacked adequate toilet facilities could adopt this solution.

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