Mewat Mondays: It’s Serious Business

No taps

No soap

No lights

No secure door

No maintenance

No water supply

No flushing system

… are some of the ways we can describe school toilets in Mewat.

Hopefully one more ‘No’ that will not be added to this list is ‘No future’ for many of the children in Mewat are not attending schools and getting the education they deserve due to dismal state of toilets.

To get a better understanding and picture of this dire situation, take a look through our lenses and see what we discovered during our toilet inspection.

Toilets are often left in a depressed state as there are no water facilities or maintenance

Toilets are often left in a depressed state as there are no water facilities or maintenance

Often, toilets are filled with bricks and stones, rendering it unusable.

Often, toilets are filled with bricks and stones, rendering it unusable.

Without a door and proper ceiling, this toilet does not provide any sense of privacy at all. Would you use it?

Without a door and proper ceiling, this toilet does not provide any sense of privacy at all. Would you use it?

In some schools, teachers even lock a few toilets for their own use as they do not want to share and use the same facilities as the students. This segregation in turn prevents any form of motivation to improve the maintenance and cleanliness of toilets since teachers are already secured of hygienic toilets.

Out of 5 toilets, 2 toilets are locked and reserved for teachers. Only 4 toilets, which are dirty, and without doors and proper ceiling are left for the students

Out of 5 toilets, 2 toilets are locked and reserved for teachers. Only 4 toilets, which are dirty, and without doors and proper ceiling are left for the students

Consequently, toilets get dirtier and become unusable. Lack of water source for toilets exacerbates this problem as it hinders any attempt at maintenance or cleanliness. To get water, teachers and students have to manually fetch pails of water from the school tap, which is a distance away, making the whole process an onerous one. This in turn poses a huge problem for schools as many girls are dropping out because of this.

The lack of separate facilities for male and female students also makes it uncomfortable for females to use toilets as there is no privacy for them. Sometimes, no toilets are allocated to females, as seen in the schools at Chandeini. To use toilets, they have to travel out of school and go to the nearest house, causing much inconvenience and wasting precious study time.

As a result, many females choose to hold in and relieve themselves only when they get home at around 3pm. This could be detrimental to their health for it might cause certain complications such as urinary tract infection, a condition that causes frequent feeling and/or need to urinate, pain during urination and cloudy urine. Had there been proper toilet facilities, it could all have been avoided and going to school would have been a more comfortable experience. More students might even choose to come to school.

It is not too late to intervene and help us improve the conditions of these toilets for the problem is too serious to be ignored. Not obtaining an education and opportunity to a better future simply due to dirty toilets is unacceptable. We have taken the first step by collaborating with the government to address the different issues toilets have. Recently, a meeting was held with the Deputy Commissioner, and proposals were made highlighting the basic infrastructures that schools need in order to have a basic functioning toilet facility. Hopefully, in the future, all 40 schools in the 19 villages will have toilet facilities that are in comparable with the number of students in the school.

If you too believe that dismal state of toilets is an unacceptable reason for children to stop their education, email info@srf-foundation.org to discuss how you can make a difference.

Mewat Mondays is brought to you by our interns, Aisyah and Rafidah, who almost could not bring themselves to face the reality of the toilets in Mewat. As part of their field research, they have been spending time in some of the 19 villages, and will gladly share pictures and anecdotes from these experiences. Reach them at siti.mohd@srf.com and rafidah.razak@srf.com respectively.

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Filed under Mewat Mondays, Mewat Rural Education Programme (MREP)

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