Many government schools have no toilets, drinking water, and boundary walls, survey reveals

New Delhi: Key amenities and infrastructure were found missing or in a shoddy condition in many government schools across the country, a survey has revealed. The survey on the implementation of Right to Education (RTE) was conducted in 780 government schools across 13 states. RTE makes education a right for all children between the ages of 6 and 14 years.

More than a third of the schools surveyed had unusable toilets or the facilities were in poor condition, 63 per cent had no playgrounds, and 60 per cent had no boundary walls. More than 80 per cent of schools did not provide age appropriate admission to children and over 60 per cent asked for proof of age, both a violation of norms under the RTE, the survey showed.

"Every time we need to use the washroom, we have to go home," says 10-year-old Rekha who studies at a government school in Madhya Pradesh's Vidisha district. Her school doesn't have a playground, drinking water facilities or a boundary wall.

Abid Khan, a teacher in a government school in Barod, Madhya Pradesh, says there is a direct correlation between sanitation facilities and the retention of girls in schools. "Parents don't want their children to go to schools like these," he says.

In 2010, the Centre gave states three years to ensure that basic infrastructure requirements were put in place. The survey shows that the deadline has been missed.

The state governments had to put in place the basic rules for RTE's implementation after it became a law in 2009. But some states like Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat took over two years to get the basic framework in place. Then there are problems on how states and the Centre can share the financial burden.

As the audit points out, these learning blocks could prove to be stumbling blocks for India's ambitious legislation that seeks to universalize education.

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