Educate to Empower
Survey Finds Lack of Clean Sanitation Facilities Deters Girls from Attending School
A school environment must be safe from risks of health and hygiene-related problems. In both project areas of Uttarakhand, lack of sanitation is still a huge barrier for girl students to fully enjoy their right to education. Even if there was a sanitation facility, it was a great challenge to keep the facilities clean, safe, private and accessible.
Therefore, many of the action plans by School Management Committees (SMCs) completed in September focused on constructing and improving inadequate sanitation facilities, i.e. providing dustbins (garbage cans) and water supply where it was needed, especially for girls’ toilets.
On the other hand, as more education and information for the girl students on adolescent health and the nature of female puberty were found to be necessary, one-day life skills training sessions were organized for Girls Parliament members, particularly for the age group of 12 to 18 years (grades 9 and 10). The training sessions covered topics such as menstrual health and hygiene, nutrition and women’s rights.
A. Udham Singh Nagar District: Sustainability Project (May 2015 to April 2018)
- In September, 42 SMC meetings were held. From a total of 17 schools, 26 out of 75 action plans were completed. While the priorities were the appointment of a guest teacher and cleaning toilets, this month’s SMC meetings also focused on discussions of the new education system. The local government invited suggestions from SMC members and community representatives.
- Access to clean, safe and private sanitation facilities was a top agenda in many of the project schools. With assistance from EGG staff, nine schools submitted proposals to three companies, seeking financial aid to construct new toilets.
- Life skills training sessions were organized in 17 schools for girls in grades 9 and 10 who are also Girls Parliament members. More than 723 students participated in the one-day training. The training was imparted through lectures, group discussions, chart-making and presentations.
- A total of 35 villages held Gram Shiksha Sabha (GSS) community meetings. GSS meetings revealed various reasons for dropout girls and provided information about free education and scholarships to the parents. While 230 dropout girls were identified, nine students re-enrolled in September which marks a total number of 53 girls returning to school since May 2015. The rate of dropout girls is high in Muslim communities followed by Scheduled Caste/Other Backward Class and Hindu general caste famiiies.
B. Haridwar District: Two Year Pilot Program (May 2015 to April 2017)
- In September, five more schools held first phase SMC trainings. A total of 26 schools held SMC meetings and 12 of these 26 schools took action on their Whole School Development Plans (WSDPs) which included installing fans, completing plantations, repairing computers, toilets, boundary walls, and supplying water in girls’ toilets. Out of 98 action plans formulated by the SMCs in 12 schools, 23 actions plans were completed as of September 15. In some of the project schools, a retired teacher, a PTA president, and a group of teachers had made contributions to complete the action plans.
- While at least 25 Girls Parliaments in the Haridwar district have newly developed action plans and are working on them, two schools, GGIC Iqbaalpur and GHS Inayatpur, need to be highlighted for actively pursuing their plans and completing almost half of their tasks. At both of these schools, the staff is extending their full cooperation to the GPs. With initiation by the GPs, eight schools have also installed new First Aid boxes.
- A total of 120 life skills training sessions were held for girl students in grades 9 and 10. The training immediately spurred off positive action by a girl student to initiate a meeting to raise awareness of sanitation at her village. The student collaborated with the villagers and led them to draft up a development plan which was submitted to a Member of Legislative Assembly of her locality for necessary actions to be taken.
- 51 Gram Shiksha Sabha community meetings were organized covering 26 more villages in September. While EGG staff learned about various reasons and factors that attribute to girls’ dropping out of school through the GSS meetings, participants discussed issues such as upgrading a primary school in their village.
- An additional 220 dropout girls were identified in September. In Haridwar, dropout rate is highest in Muslim communities, followed by Schedule Caste Hindu families.
C. Feedback from Girls on Life Skills Training
- The training was useful. Many of our misconceptions on the menstrual cycle were clarified.
- This training was quiet surprising in the sense that no one in our society gets the opportunity to discuss these issues.
- We learned from this training that personal hygiene matters.
- The knowledge was very useful for our lives.
- We will transfer the knowledge to others
- We learned that beginning of monthly periods is important in the life of a girl.
My name is Intesham. I left school one year ago when I was in ninth grade. One day, EGG staff came to my village in Darau and helped my family to understand why studying, particularly for girls, is necessary. I decided to continue my education during the next session. Now I have re-enrolled myself once again in tenth grade. I am very excited and thankful to Madam Seema who led me in the right direction.
Intesham, Student, Government Inter College
GIC Darau (Udam Singh Nagar)
Tehseen Khanam (Mother)