Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jul 12:
The newly appointed secretary of the School & Mass Education department of the Odisha government, Ranjana Chopra has directed officials to complete construction of toilets in all government-run schools latest by July 20.
The School & Mass Education department directive came following criticism from different quarters over the delay in construction of toilets in schools eve after the reopening of all schools after the summer vacations.
The department held a meeting with representatives of public sector enterprises having operations in the state, banks and industries in this connection at the headquarters of the Odisha Primary Education Programme Authority (OPEPA) here on Friday last.
At the meeting, Chopra stressed the full operationalization of toilets constructed in primary, upper primary and high schools in the state.
By ensuring clean environment, cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation accompanied by quality education will certainly have a positive influence in improving attendance in schools, said Chopra.
Many of toilets proposed to be constructed in schools in the state remain to be completed. Apprehensions have been expressed whether they can be functional in the current year as the monsoon has already set in.
What that has increased the worries of the department is the fact that construction of toilets in several schools in Bhubaneswar, right under the nose of the government, still remains incomplete.
With increased emphasis on students’ safety, the department has initiated steps in this regard.
According to reports, a decision has been taken to construct toilets in 43,956 schools in 30 districts across the state which either had no toilets or had toilets which were dysfunctional.
While 24,974 out of them are being constructed directly by public sector enterprises, the expenditure incurred on construction of 5,933 have been borne by the School & Mass Education department.
The construction of remaining 13,049 is being done by Sarva Sikshya Abhiyaan, Rashtriya Madhyamik Sikshya Abhiyaan and SBK.
The department has asked its technical officials to tour the districts and prioritize construction of toilets in schools wherever it’s incomplete and finish work within next 15 days.
The secretary has stressed on provision of water facilities along with construction of toilets.
Among others, OPEPA director Mahendra Kumar Mallick was present at the meeting.