A toilet and running tap water has changed the life of seventh grader Reena Kumar, the captain of Rehna Government School girls’ handball team.
Till about a year ago, the 14-year-old had to coerce her parents to send her to school. One can’t blame her folks, for Reena was among only eight girls who attended classes regularly. Her friends from village (Rehna village, Haryana) did not attend school as it did not have a secured lavatory.
Things changed when soft drinks manufacturer Coca Cola adopted the school and built a toilet block for girls.
Since the rollout of ‘Swachh Bharat: Swachh Vidyalaya Scheme’ (SBSV) in October last year, Indian companies have built over 20,000 toilet seats (seats = unit of measurement/urinals included) in government schools with poor infrastructure. The numbers could be higher as many companies have built toilet blocks which could house as many as 10 receptacles per block.
"The impact is phenomenal; it’s there for everyone to see," says Sameer Pathak, senior manager at Coca Cola India, which has constructed over 900 toilet seats. "The idea is to make functional schools, not fancy schools. You need to stick to very basic models to make this programme successful," asserts Pathak.
SBSV, an off-shoot of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and the only government programme with considerable corporate participation, holds out for a promising future for many underprivileged students in rural India.
Most companies have followed their own design pattern while constructing toilets in schools. A few flush toilets, urinals, wash basins, taps with running water and overhead tanks form the basic design. A few companies have also installed sanitary pad incinerators in girls’ schools.