The Centre has asked states and union territories to train school teachers in imparting hygiene education to students, including washing hands, as well as ensuring arrangements for bio-degradable waste management. It also said flexibility has been given to them to provide stand-alone piped water supply solutions instead of waiting for the completion of village water supply infrastructure for schools.
"The rejuvenation of basic infrastructure including improved sanitation facilities and provision of safe drinking water and maintaining the overall cleanliness in the government schools has long been a priority," said a joint advisory issued by the ministries of education, Jal shakti, rural development and Panchayati raj, and the NITI Aayog.
Some of the programs being implemented in mission modes such as the Swachh Bharat Mission-Grameen and the Jal Jeevan Mission are going a long way in improving the living standards of people, it said. "Under Phase -ll of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen), the focus is on open defecation-free (ODF) sustainability and solid and liquid waste management. Following the saturation approach, the objective is to ensure that no one is left behind from access to improved including schools," the advisory said.
"Under ODF Plus, it is also to be ensured that all schools in villages have arrangements for the management of bio-degradable waste and grey water. It is important to ensure that all toilets in schools are in proper functioning condition. However, some of them may require retrofitting from single pit to twin pits. This may be done as part of the ongoing campaign of retrofitting from single pit to twin pits," it added.
The Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE) Report 2021-22 pointed out some gaps in toilets and hand washing facilities and states have been asked by the Centre to fill them. "Hand washing facilities with the provision of soap may be created in all schools. It is also essential that hygiene education is imparted to the children on all aspects of hygiene," it said.
For this, at least one teacher in each school must be trained in hygiene education who in turn will train children through interesting activities and community projects that emphasise hygiene behaviour, the advisory said. It said a chapter on 'Swachhta' has been included in supplementary material at the primary level developed by the NCERT to inculcate good hygiene practices in schools.
The advisory also mentioned that under the Jal Jeevan Mission, making a provision for safe tap water supply in schools, Anganwadi centres and ashramshalas is a top priority for the government to ensure the good health and well-being of children. So far, according to the UDISE+ 2021-22 data, out of around 10. 22 lakh government schools, functional drinking water facility has been provided in 9.83 lakh schools.
"Flexibility has been given to the states and union territories to provide stand-alone piped water supply solutions instead of waiting for the completion of the village water supply infrastructure for schools and simple sustainable solar solutions may also be provided," the advisory said. It said that any requirement of funds for repair or construction of toilets, hand washing facilities or drinking water can be met from funds being released "under the 15th Finance Commission, state finance commission, MGNREGS, district mineral funds and any other sources, following the extant guidelines of these schemes and sources", it said.