India progressing in increasing access to sanitation in schools: UN
India has made rapid progress in increasing access to sanitation in schools, the United Nations said, noting that the proportion of schools without any sanitation facility has decreased at a fast pace in the country.
The UN made the statement according to a new joint UN agency study, "Drinking Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene in Schools: 2018 Global Baseline Report".
India's progress in providing sanitation facilities in schools
Annual report prepared by a joint monitoring program
The annual report is produced by the World Health Organization/UN Children's Fund Joint Monitoring Program, or JMP, which has been monitoring global progress on drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) since 1990.
Report looks at progress of two Sustainable Development Goals
The report looks at the progress made towards reaching the targets of two of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Goal 6 (Clean water and sanitation) and Goal 4 (Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities).
"WASH in School" programs provide an entry for the education, awareness-raising, and behavior change required to achieve the SDG6 target of ending open-defecation by 2030.
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JMP estimates almost all schools in India have sanitation facilities
Between 2000-2016, the proportion of schools in India without any sanitation facility decreased even faster than the proportion of the population practicing open defecation, the report said.
Based on these trends, the JMP estimates that almost all schools in India had some type of sanitation facility in 2016, while 10 years earlier half the schools in India reported having no sanitation facility at all.
Details on Indian schools with facilities for menstrual hygiene management
The report said that a survey also collected information on the availability of facilities for menstrual hygiene management.
The proportion of schools having bins with lids for disposal of sanitary materials varies widely across states in India, from 98% in Chandigarh to 36% in Chhattisgarh. Mizoram is the only state wherein over 50% of schools have a functional incinerator for disposing of sanitary waste.
Number of school-age children increased by 26mn in 16 years
The report said the Government of India issued national guidelines on menstrual hygiene management in 2015 but a survey in 2016-2017 showed that only two-thirds of schools in India provide menstrual hygiene education with wide variations between states.
Between 2000 and 2016, the number of school-age children in India increased from 352 million to 378 million.
30% of schools in world don't provide basic sanitation facilities
Over 30% of schools worldwide don't provide safe drinking water; a third of schools don't provide the most basic of toilet facilities (like septic-tank, pit latrines, or composting toilets); and nearly 900mn children go to schools with no handwashing facilities with soap and water.
The report said children who pick up good hygiene habits at school can reinforce positive life-long behaviors in their homes.
Key to help
Water, sanitation access to students will maximize their education: UNICEF
Global Chief of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene at UNICEF, Kelly Ann Naylor, said that if education is the key to helping children escape poverty, then access to water and sanitation is key to helping children safely maximize their education.
"To neglect these basic needs is to be careless with the well-being and health of children," Naylor said.