The following is a postcard from Neeharika Tummala, GlobalGiving's In-the-Field Representative in India, about her recent visit to Kalanjiyam Trust.
I never thought that I would do a site visit where I was supposed to visit toilets, but that is one of Kalanjiyam’s focus projects. Why? In many Indian government schools, the facilities are bare bones to non-existent, especially toilets which even if they exist are often not maintained. What Kalanjiyam identified is that girls tend to primarily drop out as there are no toilets and while boys can manage with nature, girls and their families are uncomfortable with that idea. Building toilets, which seems like such a small thing, provides basic necessities for encouraging girls to stay in school and study without stress. I am usually a little paranoid about walking into washrooms of public facilities, but I have to say, these were some of cleanest I have ever seen – all thanks to the lovely cleaning ladies appointed to the various schools. They cheerfully showed me around and I have to say, kudos to their great work in keeping the bathrooms clean – a step towards keeping kids in school.
Kalanjiyam is using its funds to strengthen one school after the other by providing such amenities. The second tier of strengthening schools is to add facilities such as computer labs, science labs and even kitchen gardens. As the funds roll in, more schools get access to such facilities and more kids benefits.
I visited several schools where I met students and staff. What I observed is that each class seemed to have a healthy number of students (between 18-30) and the absenteeism rate was quite low. One of the reasons is Kalanjiyam’s shadow staff, who offer after school supplementary tutoring, as well as get to school first and manage classes, in case the regular teachers are late. This provides support to the school staff as well as provides students the extra support for quality learning that they clearly need.
I heard from staff that several villages were forced to send their children to private schools because the public schools were in such poor condition. Now parents have an alternative in public education that is significantly more cost effective but also compares in the quality of education. That is amazing impact on the ground!
The Hygiene and Sanitation support to rurals schools adopted by us has resumed with the begining of schools in June. the project has increased the number of schools with a sanitation workers and more schools are now provided with a proper drinking water source. Thanks to the support of Global Giving and all the donors, the projet is able to reach to more children in our villages.
The efforts for improving school hygiene and sanitation are now implemented in nearly 20 schools in Tamil Nadu. The efforts include renovating school hygiene facilities, providing hygiene and sanitation workers and setting up safe drinking water source. Besides a water source such as filtration sytem, we also provide all the class rooms with proper storate containers where needed, and all the requirements for maintainance of these units.
At the begining of the school year our project team has visited each school to check the conditions of the school sanitation facilities and made a plan for strengthening the program in this school year. Awareness programs have begun to be conducted in the school, on how to maintain sanitary conditiions and taking the cooperation of school students and teachers to increase their ownership in the program. Overll nearly 1500 children are benefiting from the increased sanitation available now in the project schools and are therefore happier to come to school
We will continue to update you on how things progress in this school year! We thank all the donors for their continued support.
Dear friends and well wishers,
We are happy to report that the project has continued to ensure hygiene and sanitation in rural schools. In the last three months, we have increased the number of school sanitation workers, based on the needs identified by the project. Four more hygiene and sanitation workers were placed in three primary schools and one middle school, increasing the total number of schools with santiation workers. The half yearly special cleaning was taken up in all schools, and the hygiene facilities were renewed. Two school facilities were painted and roofing was replaced. In one of the middle schools, the renewal of toilet bowls/ repair work was done successfully.
Special education activities were conducted in all schools, to teach the children about hand washing practice; the educaitonal program highlighted, each time when hands shoudl be washed, how and what are the harms of not doing so. Children were asked to talk about the benefits of good hygiene for their health.
Issues realted to hygiene and sanitation in rural schools continue to be a challenging task. The main challenges that we face are infrequent powerr supply, which affects the availability of water in the toilets, as the water has to be pumped into tanks and then supplied through pipes in the toilet. Given the challenges with power supply, all the schools are having to be provided with large containers to have back up supply of water, in the event of power failures. Similarly for drinking water, all the schools were provided with large drums where drinking water from the RO system can be filled and kept in each class room. Again, each activity is accompanied with activities to educate the children and sensitize the school teacher on handling and maintaining hygiene at all times.
We thank all the well wishers for their continued support of this project.
In the last few months, the project has continued to support all the project schools for maintaining the hygiene and sanitation facilities in the schools. Three more project schools were added to the list of schools supported for cleaning and maintaining the school toilets. THree local women/ ayyahs were identified from each village and were appointed earlier this month. They are now going to the school each day and are cleaning the toilets and ensuring that hygienic conditions are maintained.
OTher than this the project is also taking up a semi-annual clearning (through acid washing) of the hygiene facilities in the large schools. Special contractors are hired for this pupose and they spend two days to clean the toilet and make them look new once again. We have found that doing this twice a year helps in the upkeep and makes the toilets look good in the long run!
Kalanjiyam staff members are also conducting special awareness classes for the school children, on the issue of hygiene and sanitation. Children are encouraged to come up with slogans and speak about the benefits of good hygiene.
We thank all of you for continuing to support this effort! Only your support is helping us to implement this program.
Dear Friends and Well wishers,
We thank you all once again for your continued support!
In the last three months project has been able to continue the support to maintain the hygiene premises in the 6+ schools in the project villages. Since the schools had exams, holidays for the summer no new schools were taken up in this period. However the project has been maintaining the hygiene and sanitation facilities by providing cleaning supplies, ensuring that the point person for the daily maintenance of the hygiene facilities is carrying out their responsibilities and troubleshooting/ taking care of any repairs in an ongoing basis.
In this regard there were repairs the water filtration systems in two schools, and these were taken care of as needed, and drinking water was made available. About 700 children continue to be benefited daily from the project; they don’t have to worry about not having a clean toilet in school or not having running water and can feel safe that they have clean drinking water. We than to all of you for making this possible!
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