Sanitary pad vending machines at 1K UP govt girls’ schools soon

Amid the rising concern over high school drop-out rate of girls due to menstrual hygiene issues and to promote safe and hygienic-sanitary practices among them, sanitary pad vending and incinerator machines will be installed at 1000 government-run girls’ high schools and intermediate colleges across the state, including 23 institutions of Prayagraj also, according to officials.

Each school would be granted Rs 30,000 to install these machines for which a budget of Rs 3 crore had been sanctioned by the centre, they added.

Director general (school education) Vijay Kiran Anand said the budget had been sanctioned under the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan at recent meeting held at Shastri Bhawan in New Delhi. “The work will be undertaken on a priority in the interest of the girl students of Uttar Pradesh,” he added.

The 23 schools of Prayagraj district selected for the installation of these machines included Government Girls’ Inter Colleges (GGICs) at Handia, Jasra, Mungari in Rampur, Naribari, Civil Lines, Old Katra, Phaphamau, Shankargarh and Phulpur besides Government Girls High School-Gohari and Government Higher Secondary School-Beri in Manda and Pipraon, officials shared. Experts inform that surveys have established that lack of menstrual knowledge, poor access to sanitary products and a non-facilitating school environment make it difficult for girls to attend schools.

A senior state education department official shared that as per the findings of a 2019 survey, conducted in all gram panchayats of 75 districts of UP by Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), a programme run by the ministry of women and child development (MWCD), as many as 5.13 lakh girls in the age group 11-14 years dropped out of schools in 2018-19. The survey revealed that the maximum numbers of dropouts were from Bahraich, Sitapur, and Shahjahanpur districts of the state, he added.

An earlier survey done by the state health department had revealed that around 28 lakh adolescent girls in the state missed school every month due to problems related to menstruation and 19 lakh eventually quit education. A survey conducted by UNICEF for India had also revealed that over 85% of the girls in the country used cloth during menstruation instead of the safer sanitary napkins being produced in the country at cheap rates and widely available, the official said.

Statistics of the Union ministry of women and child development reveal that there are 16.2 lakh girls in the country, in the 11 to 14 age group, who do not attend schools. The data also says Uttar Pradesh and Bihar top the list (about 5,00,000 girls) followed by Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh (more than 1,00,000).

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