No one cares to maintain CWSN toilets
Most government schools in Bengaluru lack PWD aids that can be used by persons with disabilities (PwDs).
Section 16 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act says all educational institutions are to construct buildings, campuses and other facilities accessible to children with disabilities.
The Observer visited GKMM school in Karisandra and found that the school was far from being convenient for children with special needs (CWSN). Manjunath, principal of the school, said: “We don’t have ramps, tactile flooring or wheelchairs for students. We offer admissions to CWSN, but they don’t really require ramps as they can walk even if they are handicapped.”
Things are a tad better at the Gollahalli government school, but it is a long way from becoming PwD-friendly.
Principal Geeta T said: “We have ramps for disabled children. But we don’t provide wheelchairs to them.” The Observer scanned the entire school and didn’t find ramps in every building, except just one standalone building that was at a distance from the main buildings. The buildings did not have tactile flooring which guides the visually impaired through their way.
Dr Anjlee Agarwal from Samarthyam, an NGO working for PwDs and CWSN, highlighted the problems faced by them due to lack of accessibility, particularly in government schools.
“There is little understanding of making the ramps and the so-called CWSN toilets accessible. In spite of having so many facilities, no one has an understanding of accessibility standards. Also, CWSN toilets are identified at the corner of the building which is completely detached from the common toilets. Since these toilets are at the end of the building, no one cares to maintain them,” she said.
Owing to the segregation of CWSN toilets from common toilets, these become areas of abuse and violence, especially for girls.
Under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the purpose of providing inclusive education is to provide universal and equal learning to all. In India, inclusive education especially extends to CWSN.
According to a 2020 report of Unified District Information System of Education, 5,605 out of 44,615 government schools in Karnataka have CWSN-friendly toilets is out of Out of these only 9.89 per cent are functional. Only 29,288 out of 44,615 schools in the state have ramps.