The Karnataka government has issued a circular banning government schools from using students to clean toilets on the premises. The circular issued by the Department of School Education and Literacy said that several instances of children cleaning toilets had come to its notice. “All the government primary and high schools in the state are prohibited from using students for cleaning and maintenance of toilets,” the circular stated.
Calling the action of children cleaning toilets “objectionable and condemnable,” the circular stated, “School students should participate in academic, extracurricular and sports activities. It is the responsibility of officials, principal, teachers and school staff to keep students away from cleaning and maintenance of toilets.”
The Department stated that a First Information Report (FIR) would be filed against officials and school staff if they were found to have used children to clean toilets. Departmental action would also be initiated against them.
The circular instructed the schools to use the maintenance grants released to them and take the help of the School Development and Monitoring Committee (SDMC) to use local resources to keep the toilets clean and maintain hygiene on the school premises.
The circular also instructed local education officials to inspect schools from time to time and ensure that separate toilets were available for boys and girls and these toilets remain unlocked during school hours. The officials have also been instructed to talk to the students and ensure that they have not been forced to clean the toilets. In case officials found instances where children have been used to clean the toilets, they have been instructed to take action against the school immediately.
Several incidents of students being made to clean toilets in schools have emerged in the recent past from Karnataka, with three such cases being reported in December alone. Just three days ago, a video emerged of students cleaning toilets in Shivamogga district, the home district of Primary and Secondary Education Minister Madhu Bangarappa. The principal of the school was suspended immediately. This was after another incident was reported in the Bengaluru area, where children were seen to be cleaning toilets in the school. Madhu Bangarappa had condemned the incident and said that he would ensure such incidents would not be repeated.