Scheme conceptualised to reduce high drop-out rates

A scheme of the Rajiv Vidya Mission to distribute sanitary pads to girl children in government schools so as to improve their menstrual hygiene is now defunct due to lack of funds.

Introduced in 2012 as part of the National Programme for Education of Girls at Elementary Level (NPGL), the scheme aimed at distributing packets of branded sanitary napkins to adolescent girl children of classes seven and eight every month.

Conceptualised in order to reduce the high drop-out rates among adolescent girl children after puberty, the programme had, as its stated objective, 100 per cent enrolment and retention. In the academic year 2012-13, the RVM spent Rs.10 crore of Central funds to the benefit of about 10 lakh girl children in government schools across the State, officials informed. However, a few months after its initiation, the programme could not be sustained, reportedly due to lack of funds.

“We have not received Central funds for 2013-14, as the duration of NPGL was over. So, the programme was shelved within eight months. If taken up by the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan again, it can reach students of classes nine and 10 too,” said State Girl Child Development Officer, RVM Vijaya Lakshmi. However, distribution of pads is on for students of up to Class X in the 743 Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas, she said.

Considering the problems associated with the disposal of pads, permanent incinerators have been proposed for all KGBV buildings, she said, addressing a workshop on Menstrual Hygiene Management, organised by the Centre for World Solidarity on Wednesday. Another scheme, ‘Sabla’, of the Department of Women and Child Development also had the component of distribution of sanitary napkins, but it was later removed to avoid duplication with NRHM, NGO representatives said.

“States such as Karnataka and Kerala are installing sanitary napkin vending machines in corporation schools. Here too, stocks of napkins should be made available for girl students, who are often forced to stay at home during menstruation,” said K. Siva Kumari from another NGO, SWARD.