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4 Charts That Show The Lack Of Toilets Is The Reason Why Children Aren’t In Schools

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By Mayank Jain:

A young girl of 8 who wants to go to school. Her parents want her to attend classes and learn. She is excited about her books and new friends. And finally, when she does get a chance to go, she finds that the school has no toilet for her. Her parents can’t afford a private education and they decide to put a full stop on the girl’s education instead. She is back as a labourer assisting her father on the workshop.

school toilets india


“Pehle shauchalaya, phir devalaya”, the war cry by then PM candidate Narendra Modi invigorated the country’s faith in him. It resonated with supporters and the opposition alike and sanitation problems of the country were once again at the forefront of public discourse. Our next Prime Minister was already talking about building more toilets instead of temples, and things looked to be getting on track, at least on the surface.

Under the surface of glitz and glamor of a majority government in a developing country lies a deeper structural and infrastructural deficit. The lack of toilets in the country is eminent in our sanitation statistics appearing almost every day in some newspaper or the other. It can also be seen much nearer when the stench of the nearby garbage dump infiltrates our nose, or even on the railway tracks full of human excreta. The proposed bullet trains will run over them.

Non-existent toilets

It is unclear if not giving girls a space for sanitation is part of the disciplinarian approach our education system emphasizes upon, but girls do not have bladders of steel and the government should realize that. 80% of all the schools are government run or supported. The government is the biggest provider of education in the country, but the state of government schools in the country across all the states is nightmarish.

A report about the number of toilets in country’s government schools reveals multiple problems that lie at the heart of the fast dipping enrolment ratio, especially at the upper primary level.



While Bihar leads the pack with almost 18,000 schools with non-existent toilets. Other states aren’t far behind. Even the ‘highly developed’ Gujarat has 87 schools without girls’ toilets, and many more with dysfunctional ones. Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal are worse performers with more than 21,000 schools without girls’ toilets. In total, more than 25 states out of 29 don’t have appropriate toilets for girls in their schools.

The problems don’t just end with the lack of toilets for girls. Boys aren’t too well off in the country’s schools either. An equally high number of government schools either don’t have toilets or they are dysfunctional. The numbers are mind boggling and point to a deeper problem of hurried thinking. Why were the schools built without toilets in the first place? How unimportant is the availability of toilets in schools that they don’t get repaired/built? Take a look at the chart that shows the data of schools with dysfunctional as well as missing boys’ toilets.



The deficiency cuts across the country and divides the states into have and have-nots. From Bihar, Assam, Chattisgarh to even Tamil Nadu, some 10+ states have more than 5000 schools without boys’ toilets and literacy rate will stop rising soon if we don’t bring facilities to our children. The case of dysfunctional toilets is even worse since they end up spreading diseases and bacteria. Madhya Pradesh has almost the same number of schools with dysfunctional toilets as without toilets, and the story is similar with West Bengal and Tripura with more than 20,000 such schools with deficient boys’ toilets between themselves.

Dwindling Education

Schools attract students because of libraries, teachers and books, but toilets, clean water and sanitation facilities keep them in schools. The total sanitation campaign was taken up by the government with UNICEF, and marginal improvement has been observed. However, equal amount of work needs to be done in multiple spheres.

Plotting these deficient schools as percentages of total schools in states makes the picture clearer. Mizoram schools are highly skewed against boys as more than 30% of all schools are deficient in toilet facilities for boys. The same figure is much higher for states like Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Goa and even newly created Telangana where at least 40% of the schools don’t have toilets for boys.



The Infamous 5

When it comes to not being able to provide sanitation facilities to girls in their schools, Telangana and Meghalaya are neck to neck with almost 53.8% of schools with non existent or deficient toilets. Bihar and Jammu and Kashmir also figure in the worst performing states with their deficient schools making up for almost 40% of the total schools in the states. Meghalaya however springs a surprise and turns out as the worst state for female students. More than 62% of government schools in the state have either missing or dysfunctional toilets.

jworst 5


Meghalaya ranks 17th among Indian states for its literacy rate and one of the clear reasons could be this lack of toilets, as revealed by this analysis. Bihar also ranks the lowest in the literacy rate table. Toilets aren’t just crucial for sanitation but for general wellbeing too. Badaun gang rape also ended up highlighting lack of toilets as a crucial problem we need to fix as soon as possible. Women have to wait until wee hours or late at night to go out and they end up being attacked by criminals waiting for an opportunity.

It serves as an eye opener for us to start prioritizing on getting toilets in our schools, homes and cities before we look forward to IITs and IIMs, which will end up as exclusively for the privileged, if this continues.

To know more about this story and what I think, follow me on Twitter at @mayank1029


You must be to comment.
  1. Cheshta Anand

    I feel that everyone in rural areas should get inspired by this article,
    And try to inculcate healthy sanitary habits and construct washrooms in every area.
    Everyone should realise the importance of girl’s sanitation and for children too in order to devlop and create a healthy nation

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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