Other issues include inadequate drinking water facilities, desks and chairs

Nearly four years after the Right to Education (RTE) Act was implemented on April 1, 2010, almost half the students surveyed by a non-government organisation recently said their schools did not even have functional toilets!

Glaring gaps in infrastructure at government schools were found by NGO JOSH in its survey, it said while releasing a report on the status of RTE implementation here on Thursday.

The survey, titled “The Delhi Story 2014”, had covered 1,823 households and 49 schools spread across nine districts of Delhi. It was carried out by student volunteers from Delhi University, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).

The RTE Act mandates that all schools must have basic infrastructure like an all-weather building, at least one classroom per teacher, separate toilets for girls and boys, a playground, a well-stocked library and ramps to make the premises accessible for differently-abled students.

As per the report, 43.5 per cent of students said they did not have functional toilets in their schools and 47.61 per cent said the drinking water facilities were not adequate.

“Most schools have toilets. But they are either so dirty that they can’t be used or teachers keep them locked for their own use as they don’t have toilets of their own,” explained JOSH’s director of policy and advocacy Aheli Chowdhury.

Ms. Chowdhury said “stress on infrastructure” at schools is immense, as most are run in two shifts.

“One safai karamchari comes to clean the toilets in the morning, but after the first shift ends in the afternoon the toilets are dirty and need cleaning once again,” she added.

Apart from toilets, as many as 25 per cent also claimed that they did not have adequate desks and chairs.

The problem, Ms. Chowdhury said, is the absence of regular maintenance and monitoring, which has affected existing infrastructure.

“While more classrooms are being constructed at schools, basic facilities like drinking water and toilets are not maintained,” she said.

But, despite all the problems, students seem to be happy, as 94 per cent told surveyors that they liked going to school.

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