Kupwara: Notwithstanding the tall claims of the Education Department of improving infrastructure at government schools, there are several educational institutions, spread across North Kashmir’s Kupwara district, which lack toilet facilities.
Lack of toilet facility at schools has really been a nuisance for female students and in most of the cases they leave their studies halfway.
The problem of lack of toilets and other related facilities has largely been found in the schools located in the remote areas of the district. One such school is located at Deedad Mohalla in Hangnikoot area of Handwara.
The school not only lacks toilet facilities but its building is also in decrepit condition. Its crumbling building forced authorities to shift the school to a single rented room in the year gone by to prevent any human loss.
Deputy Sarpanch of the village Ashiq Hussain Deedad told Greater Kashmir that over sixty students were studying at government SSA school Deedad Mohalla Hangnikoot. They were constantly attending classes in the unsafe building before the news about it was published, thus forcing authorities to shift the school to a private accommodation, he said.
“The school is also running without the facility of a washroom due to which students, especially female students, are suffering badly,” he added. “Earlier washroom was built here but it was damaged due to heavy snowfall in 2013. Since then the school has been functioning without a washroom,” Ashiq said.
The locals have urged authorities to take concrete steps for the infrastructural development of the school so that students of the area do not have to leave their studies halfway.
The students at Government Upper Primary School Dardhaji in Rajwar area of Handwara also suffer due to lack of toilet facilities.
“Years ago few washrooms were constructed in the premises of the school but they remained choked for several years. In 2022, when I happened to visit the school I realised the hardships of girl students with regard to lack of washrooms there. I handed over some amount to the head of the institution and requested him to renovate the washrooms. Although one of the washrooms has been renovated but it remains inadequate to cater to the needs of over hundred students,” Sarpanch of the village Farooq Ahmad Cheechi told Greater Kashmir.
“We have been demanding a new building for the school because the old one has developed huge cracks, posing a threat to the lives of hundreds of students and the members of the staff. We have offered land to the department. However, nothing is being done for the construction of the new building,” he added.
The tale of Upper Primary School Chontiwari Rajwar is not different from these schools. The school has six washrooms but five are choked and the sixth one is in dilapidated condition and is being used both by staff and children. The washroom lacks water facility; even the door is also damaged.
“Early morning during school days we bring water from a nearby stream and fill the bucket which has been kept in the toilet. Students and staff are really suffering due to lack of proper toilet facilities at our school,” said an official.
UPS Gundkamal in Qaziabad area of Handwara also faces the same problem. The washrooms are clogged as a result over ninety students studying here are facing problems.
Most of the schools across Kupwara district have no separate toilet facilities for girl students due to which they face problems. The female students at Upper Primary School Kralpora in Qaziabad area are forced to use the common toilet because the school has only one washroom.
Deputy Chief Education Officer (CEO) Kupwara Manzoor Ahmad Bhat, when contacted, said, “The schools get a grant up to Rs 25000 every year so the choked toilets can be easily cleaned and repaired if needed.”
“Even local PRIs can also play their role by providing toilet facilities to those schools which don’t have washrooms. They, out of their funds, can come to the rescue of students,” he added.
“We will still seek a detailed report from school heads about non-availability of washrooms in schools following which concrete steps will be taken to provide toilet facilities,” he added.