Once Mahatma Gandhi had said, “Asli Bharat gaon mein basta hey” (Real India lives in villages). The remark is relevant today when there are raft of reports about how lack of clean sanitation facilities deters girls from attending school and causes difficulties for lady teachers in cities and prominent localities of the country. Yet an unknown school located in Dhundalwadi village of Maharashtra has shown the way as to how Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of building separate toilets for boys and girls in schools can be fulfilled, by constructing lavatories. As a result now there is no obstacle preventing the girl students from coming out in numbers and registering hundred percent attendance.
The village with a population of at least 2,500 lacks basic infrastructure and amenities. A few houses which are equipped with these bare essentials have only erratic water and power supply, a report by the Indian Express said. For the 140 girls in Dhundalwadi school, the school’s toilets give access to sanitation and privacy. But the impact is larger — not skipping school also means better focus on education and better overall health, it said.
“We needed toilets in the 22 tribal schools in our village. As part of their corporate social responsibility initiative, a private firm built 10 toilets,” said Smita Pagdhane, principal of the Dhundalwadi school.
However, a toilet is a prized possession in the village and has to be guarded from vagabonds and drunks.
On 15th August 2014, Prime Minister Modi announced the Swacch Vidyalaya Abhiyan, the Clean Schools Movement, and promised to build separate toilets for 137.7 million boys and girls at schools nationwide within a year. He also accorded top priority to toilets for girls in schools, saying, “I want to start one work from today. There should be a toilet in all the schools of our country. A separate toilet for girls… it is only then our girls will not have to quit schools.”
There have been an array of initiatives being taken to improve sanitation standards in India and also to strengthen Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious Swachh Bharat Campaign but the Dhundalwadi school will remain silver lining in India’s effort to clean the country.