SEARCH

Cities » Chennai

Updated: October 19, 2009 13:26 IST

Children walking barefoot on city’s roads have experts worried

Meera Srinivasan
print   ·   T  T  
NO PROTECTION: It is not uncommon to see school children walking without footwear, leaving them vulnerable to infections. Photo: R, Ragu
The Hindu NO PROTECTION: It is not uncommon to see school children walking without footwear, leaving them vulnerable to infections. Photo: R, Ragu

"It is very dangerous as they might step on unhygienic spots"

It’s around 3 p.m. and the afternoon heat, unforgiving. Meena and Divya are returning from school, walking swiftly in their pink and white uniform, barefoot.

Several school-going children in the city, particularly those going to Corporation, government or aided school, are walking to school and back, without any footwear. “I don’t have a pair of chappals, so I don’t wear,” says Divya, a Class VI student.

“Miss [teacher] told us that it is important to wear footwear, but I do not have any,” says Meena. Asked how they manage to walk in the heat, she replies: “We walk everyday. Nothing happens.”

S. Mohanapriya also thinks there is no problem with that. “It is okay…our teacher does not scold us for it.”

Affordability

It is not easy to make footwear compulsory in schools that have children from modest backgrounds go to, say heads of schools. According to M. Thirumani Vanitha, headmistress of the General Cariappa Higher Secondary School, many children cannot afford footwear and it was not of even remote concern to their parents.

“When children come from families that struggle to make both ends meet, parents are more than happy that their children get to attend school. They do not worry about anything else.”

Personal hygiene

So, on Wednesdays, when the school observes cleanliness day, teachers insist that the children maintain good personal hygiene, washing their feet often.

“The government could consider giving free footwear to these children. It is so depressing to see them walk on the road. Whether it is the heat or the rain, they have a very difficult time,” says the head of a corporation school, on condition of anonymity.

Parents, on their part, say their children are used to it. “Wearing shoes is not compulsory in their school. Moreover, the slippers we buy do not last too long,” says S. Chandra, a domestic help and mother of two school-going children.

Health implications

Besides the heat and dust, the practice of travelling barefoot could have serious health implications, according to experts. Sujatha Sridharan, Assistant Professor of Paediatrics, Institute of Social Paediatrics, Government Stanley Medical College and Hospital, says walking barefoot could lead to problems such as worm infestation, infections due to thorn pricks or from other dangerous objects such as nails lying on the road.

“A must”

“Moreover, children might step on unhygienic spots where people spit or defecate. It is very dangerous. Footwear is a must,” she emphasizes.

RELATED NEWS

Meera SrinivasanJune 28, 2012

More In: Chennai

ChennaiConnect Newsfeed

Get a taste of Sindhi delicacies at Shri Siddhi Vinayak Sweets, which has outlets in Kilpauk and Egmore »


September 18, 2014 Tangedco has planned to carry out an emergency shutdown at MRC Nagar substation between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday for replacement of breakers. The area... »

Crime

Society

Health


O
P
E
N

close

Recent Article in Chennai

Fast, demos mark protest against Jayalalithaa conviction

Agitators condemning the verdict against Ms. Jayalaithaa gathered in different location in the city right from 9 am onwards. Fl... »