How a Telangana govt-run school may soon have better sanitation, thanks to Twitter

A government school in Telangana’s Medak town had 2 toilets for 270 girls and none for boys. This, however, may soon change.
How a Telangana govt-run school may soon have better sanitation, thanks to Twitter
How a Telangana govt-run school may soon have better sanitation, thanks to Twitter
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For a government-run school in Telangana to get funds to repair and build new toilets, it seems they must bypass the district administration, get online on social media and tweet out their problems to get the government’s attention quicker. When the Zilla Parishad High School at Ramayanpet in Medak wanted to rebuild their thirty-year-old toilets for girl students, activists took to Twitter for officials to take notice.

The school is in a poor state, says Prashanth Mamidala, who runs the Hyderabad-based Helping Hands Humanity, a non-profit that helps teach school children. Prashanth took to Twitter and tagged state ministers and government officials to highlight the plight of the school.

For the 270 girls studying at the school, there are only 2 toilets that do not have drainage access. The 133 boys at the school do not even have toilets and have to relieve themselves outside the school.

"There are 403 students in the school and the girls use the toilets when it is an emergency, else they have to relieve themselves outside the school like the boys," says G Prasanna Mani, the headmistress of the school. "I do not know the history as to why the school is still in a bad shape or as to why no efforts were taken in the past to fix it," she adds. Prasanna joined the school as the headmistress this academic year.

After Prashanth's tweet, on Monday, the state government gave an assurance that the toilets will be rebuilt.

Prasanna says officials with the Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin on Monday assured funds to the school under the direction of the Medak collector. "The funds have not been sanctioned yet, they said they will sanction," says Prasanna.

According to the Education Department, in Telangana, there are currently about 4,932 government schools where there are no toilets for boys and there are 2,427 girl schools which have no toilets. The Directorate of School Education, earlier this month, launched a CSR online portal to accept donations for developing the state’s infrastructure, laboratories and toilets and providing drinking water facilities at government schools.

Prashant and his non-profit organisation have been trying to help upgrade infrastructure by collecting funds over the years but have come to realise that the donation route does not always address the issue at hand. 

"Initially, we used to collect funds and do the work, but it is a problem with a single school –  fixing one school doesn't help since there are many schools in the state like this.” He now tries to coordinate with the Education Department and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) but is of the view that the Education Department needs to be more proactive than wait for a nod from politicians on Twitter.

"It's not true that the department does not have funds. When KT Rama Rao (Telangana Chief Minister’s son and former IT minister) tweets, the department proactively ensures funds are made available and they start working. The power hub is at a single central point. I tweet to all the ministers, but except for one or two ministers nobody else responds; they are not active in responding to queries. If ministers get active, these issues will get resolved through their direct involvement," says Prashant.

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