UP Govt’s infrastructure boost boosts primary school enrollment and attendance

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The Uttar Pradesh government’s initiative to build additional toilets for girls and develop other infrastructure in primary schools has resulted in a large increase in student enrollment and attendance, according to a state government report. This rose to 97 percent in November this year, compared to 61 percent of girls’ restrooms in elementary schools statewide in November 2019, the report said.

School enrollment and attendance increased to 1.91 million in 2022-23, up from 1.52 million in 2016-17 due to the infrastructure push, including the establishment of multiple handwashing facilities, it said. However, reports from districts also highlighted maintenance issues, as many schools had students and residents complaining that toilets were either locked or not cleaned daily.

In June 2018/19, the state government launched “Operation Vidyalaya Kayakalp” to further strengthen 19 infrastructure facilities in 1.33 lakh primary schools.

This included the construction of boys’ and girls’ toilets and urinals for children with special needs, clean drinking water, several hand washing facilities, a working electricity connection, furniture and tiles in the classrooms and the boundary wall. Vijay Kiran Anand, director-general of school education, told PTI that Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath holds a monthly meeting to review the progress of Operation Kayakalp with all divisional commissioners and district judges.

Control rooms have been established at the state, district and block levels to monitor the progress and facilitation of the work, and monthly Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) calls are made by the state to each school principal for feedback and challenges know. he said.

A three-tier comprehensive monitoring mechanism through Prerna dashboards from state to block level has also been developed to ensure time-bound completion and saturation of child-friendly basic infrastructure in schools, Anand added. He said Operation Kayakalp had been selected by the Union Ministry of Education in the “Best Practice” category and a presentation was given to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June.

According to a Ballia report, 2,249 schools run under the Basic Education Council.

District Coordinator (Construction) Satyendra Rai said each school has at least one toilet for students, while some others with more students have more than one latrine. Jyoti, a student at Bilthar Road Government School, said there are three toilets in a row for boys and girls. But they share a common front door, which causes inconveniences for the students, she said.

Tanya and Anuradha from the same school said the toilets are rarely cleaned. Sushil Yadav, director of the government school in Kakraso village, said there are 514 students in the school, which has four toilets. The department did not provide safai (cleanliness) staff. So they have to rely on Gram Panchayat staff to clean them, he added.

According to a report by Jhansi, most schools have separate toilets for girls. Basic education officer Neelam Yadav said the village chief or school principals make arrangements to have the toilets cleaned daily. She said the toilet facility has helped attract more students to schools.

A 5th grade student in Dikholi said that after the toilet was built, she and her friends did not have to run home to relieve themselves.

According to a Shahjahanpur report, there are 2,720 government schools and 2,704 of them had new toilets and urinals installed last year.

Surendra Singh, District Commissioner for Basic Education, said the toilets are being cleaned by panchayat safai karamcharis. He said toilets could not be built in some schools due to lack of land.

Many parents in the Bhai Jalalabad Bada blocks complained that the toilets in the schools remain locked most of the time, forcing students to relieve themselves in the nearby fields. In Baghpat, primary school officer Kirti said schools in the district already have separate toilets for boys and girls.

The principal of a government school in Baghpat, Ashutosh Mishra, said the toilets were cleaned daily. According to a Meerut report, enrollment in schools has increased due to the construction of additional toilets for girls.

District Commissioner for Basic Education Harendra Sharma said there are 1,072 government schools, 32 of which are no longer rented.

He said while schools in government buildings have separate toilets for boys and girls, some schools operating from rented premises have only one toilet. He said panchayats take care of their daily cleaning.

Hemlata, a principal at a government school in the Abdulpur block, said girls had more daily visits than boys due to separate toilets.

However, parents of some students at the school complained that the toilets were not cleaned on a daily basis.

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