Modi Is Right. To Stop School Dropouts, Fix The Toilets
Note: the left scale refers to the Sanitation metric while the right scale refers to Retention rate Source: DISE Reports 2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14, Data on retention rates for Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana and Goa not available. In response to a question from a young student a few weeks ago, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that in the absence of toilets, girls who enroll in primary school do not continue in school for too long. A historical analysis of data from 23 States in India confirms this. However, it would be important to look at sanitation in our schools more holistically - availability of clean drinking water and facilities for washing hands are the other critical components of sanitation in schools. Sanitation infrastructure India’s sanitation infrastructure in schools continues to be poor, as is evident from the following statistics. • Nationally, 19.15% of primary schools do not have separate girls’ toilets, 6% of all primary schools do not have facilities for drinking water while 58.4% of all primary schools do not have a hand-washing facility near their toilets. (Source : DISE Report, 2013-14) •There is considerable variation across States when it comes to having such infrastructure in place. While States like Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra are the top performers, North-East States such as Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, and other States like Jharkhand lag behind. Why Students Leave While enrolment rates at the primary education level have increased significantly in all states in the past few years, retention of students remains a challenge. At the All-India level, more than 17% of students who enrolled in Class I in 2009-10 did not enrol in Class V in 2013-14. Moreover, there is a sharp, direct correlation between sanitation infrastructure in schools and retention of students in primary schools. (shown in the figure above). The Sanitation Metric used for this analysis is an equi-weighted average of 3 metrics tracked by DISE –
- a) % schools with girls’ toilets
- b) % schools with hand-washing facility near toilets
- c) % schools with drinking water facility.