December 13, 2015

Indian Schools' Infrastructure: the Support My School Initiative

Education is a building block for any society. Unfortunately in India, a large section of people still don't have access to basic education. Getting higher education is another thing, but it becomes a topic of grave concern if some section of people is not even able to get access to basic education. This not only hampers their personal growth but also affects the society as a whole. For proper and wholesome growth of society it's important that entire human population residing in it has proper access to education. The problem occurs when a family is poor and has to worry about even their daily meals. In such cases, education of children takes backstage and several other things get prioritised. However we should understand that real growth of our Nation is possible only if we take our fellow countrymen along in the journey.

Education in India suffers from several problem. But the most prominent one is lack of sanitation, hygiene and safety in Schools. These factors particularly become prominent in Government schools established in rural areas. Govt Schools in rural areas are highly neglected and lack basic sanitation facilities too. Since a large population of India resides in small villages and towns, it’s important to focus on the quality of schools in such regions. It is also noteworthy that, it’s only poor people who are made to bear the brunt of all this negligence in standard of education. More affluent families have always got the option to send their children to private schools. So this makes it even more pertinent that Govt schools in small towns and villages should be focused upon to bring better educational resources there.

Families in rural areas already hesitate from sending their children to schools due to their poverty. Added to their hesitation, if the school is not good enough, they are even less likely not to send their children to school. In deciding quality of any school, three things particularly play an important role- the quality of teachers, the infrastructure of school, and sanitation facilities. Govt schools in small towns usually lack all the three. Out of the three, sanitation is probably the most important factor that decides whether the children will be willing to come to school daily or not. In several rural schools, sanitation facilities are in horrible conditions. Separate toilets of boys and girls are not there, and wherever they are there, they are badly maintained. They have cleanliness issues. These factors really means a lot for psychological well being of children. Girl children in particular, hesitate from going to such schools.

Absence of play grounds and other recreational places, is also one major factor. Their roles in the all round development of children can never be underestimated. They also play some role in attracting the children to schools. Small town schools unfortunately have poorly maintained play grounds and sports facilities.

With the recently launched toilets-in-schools campaign by central Govt, situation is certainly improving but there is a lot more to do. Clean drinking water, sports facilities, library infrastructure; these too need to be prioritized. This is where non-governmental organizations and common men should step in to help. One very good example of combined concerted efforts of NGOs with help from concerned citizens, is that of “Support My School” campaign, which focuses on safe drinking water, hygiene, infrastructure and sanitation in schools. This is being undertaken by Coca-Cola India & NDTV, in association with the UN-Habitat and Charities Aid Foundation (CAF). NDTV has targeted to vitalize 1000 schools and named it   “Mission 1000”. It’s necessary that schools are having a cleaner and healthier environment, so that children are more likely to continue their education and not drop-out midway their education. So these efforts by NGOs and other organizations should always be appreciated and supported by us. Overall, the progress looks good for our society. Hope we are able to focus well on education and make a difference to our education system.