New Delhi: If you thought poverty or family resistance are the primary reasons for girls to drop out of school, then this will come as a shocker - many of them prefer to drop out, simply because their schools have no toilets for girls.
NDTV visited one such school in Delhi. "The lack of facilities like proper benches, toilets and playgrounds affects the decision of the parents of these girls," said Yagya Tatari, Principal, Sonepat Government Secondary School.
The Rural Development Ministry has launched the School Sanitation and Hygiene Programme which aims to provide all village schools with separate toilets for girls and boys, wash basins and tap water.
A report by the UNICEF has also found that in government schools in India, where these facilities are available, attendance has gone up, especially that of girls, by as much as 14 per cent.
"When it comes to girls, they are the biggest losers. The only way to get them to school and ensure they don't feel vulnerable is to make this campaign successful. But it's not always easy," said JS Mathur, Joint Secretary (Sanitation), Rural Development Ministry.
Studies indicate providing private and separate sanitary latrines in school can increase girls' enrolment and help keep them in school as they enter adolescence. While the government is doing its bit to take this forward, public awareness and a public-private partnership could pave way for better facilities, awareness, and increased learning in the long run.