Andhra Pradesh Woos Students With Clean Toilets

By Lola Nayar November 19, 2023

World Toilet Day 2023: Andhra Pradesh government-funded sanitation scheme for over 45,000 state-run schools is a lesson in how better sanitation infrastructure can be created and innovatively managed

Andhra Pradesh Woos Students With Clean Toilets
State government is using the money given under the Amma Vodi scheme (a unique mothers’ project) and has selected sanitation helpers in all the 45,716 schools across the state. Shutterstock

The Andhra Pradesh government has initiated the Nadu-Nedu (Then and Now) programme and is revamping the toilets in 56,703 schools and hostels by providing them with running water facilities. In the first phase, 15,715 schools have been renovated, and all the remaining schools will be completed by the end of 2023, Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy has assured.

The state government is using the money given under the Amma Vodi scheme (a unique mothers’ project) and has selected sanitation helpers in all the 45,716 schools across the state, according to an assessment report.

In fact, all funds utilised have been put under the Toilet Maintenance Fund, a revolutionary concept to maintain school toilets in a scientific and professional manner through optimum utilisation of human and financial resources to promote the health and self-esteem of students and to contribute to improving learning outcomes.

“A helper is appointed for every 300 students, and Rs 6,000 is being paid per month to each sanitation helper, besides supplying chemical kits for cleaning the toilets. The sanitation of school toilets is being monitored by village secretariat employees to district-level officials,” according to a government official.

The focus is on providing clean and neat toilets not just in government schools but also in government-funded junior colleges. Government studies have revealed that lack of clean toilets in schools has a negative impact on the health of children. It also affects attendance, especially of girls who have attained puberty.

The scheme also helps in the empowerment of women by providing employment opportunities to over 45,000 womenfolk. In addition, capacity building and training is being undertaken where standard operating procedures are imparted, besides providing sanitation workers with cleaning tools and safety gear. The fund also provides for a four-tier monitoring system.

Recognising parents as a critical stakeholder, as every parent wants his or her child to study in well-structured schools, the Andhra Pradesh government brought them into the fold with the hope of reducing school dropout rates and ensuring uninterrupted learning.

Infrastructure Development

In tune with its plans to ensure better infrastructure in all government schools under the ‘Nadu Nedu’ (then and now), or infrastructure re-imagination plan, Andhra Pradesh is the first state to use technology tools like AI to ensure proper hygiene in government schools.  AI allows the government to monitor cleanliness and ensure hygienic conditions in over 45,000 state-run schools.

Adoption of technology also helps to automatically grade sanitation in different areas such as commodes, urinals, washbasins, and floors. User-friendly mobile apps enable helpers to capture images, which are then passed to the AI engine, which helps to get the toilets and restrooms categorised based on the level of cleanliness.

Apart from behaviour change interventions, regular inspection and corrective action are required for ensuring hygienic conditions in these toilets. Without technology, this would mean daily physical inspections of over 45,000 government schools in the state, as well as reporting to authorities and monitoring remedial action. This was impossible to ensure earlier.

AI is also being deployed in urban local body areas to monitor and inspect sites traditionally used to dump waste. The attempt is to ensure that stakeholders find alternative means to dispose of waste. The government agencies are better able to monitor sanitation and hygiene of all public areas continuously monitored through this approach.

In the case of school sanitation and cleanliness, the process is being handled digitally by an app, access to which has been given to parent committees, school administration, and construction and civil engineering companies.

This ensures that the primary stakeholders (in this case, the parent committees) remain as the drivers of these infrastructure projects. The app also allows the state government to directly transfer infrastructure development funds to the accounts of the school parents’ committees, thereby empowering and encouraging the parent community to actively oversee and execute the programme.                                       

The civil engineering workforce has to prepare the estimates, take required approvals, and make payments to vendors through a centralised procurement system. The procurement system has also been built to ensure end-to-end visibility to all stakeholders.

In effect, at any point in time, a state government official, a school administrator, or a parent committee member can see and track the infrastructure development process.  High-quality compliance and monitoring tools have also been developed as part of this model. 

In addition, there is a transparent finance workflow, integrated with a voucher and billing system, to record, monitor, and track financial disbursal and use of funds, from the time of allocation from state to the parent committees to vendor disbursal.

On a transformational level, Nadu Nedu has proved how technology can help build an ecosystem of service to a community and serve the larger purpose of nation-building by playing a role in building a robust education infrastructure system.

Widening the scope of the sanitation scheme, in October 2021, Andhra Pradesh government launched "Swechha", an initiative to provide free sanitary napkins to adolescent girls studying in government educational institutions.

Free sanitary napkins

Launching the scheme, Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy stated that it is aimed at improving the health and hygiene of adolescent girls. “Studies point out that about 23 percent of girls in the country are staying away from schools and colleges during their monthly menstruation period.

In order to change this situation, our government has initiated various measures, like improving the cleanliness of toilets in all government institutions under the Nadu-Nedu programme and now Swechha,” Reddy said.

Each girl student in the state is entitled to receive 120 napkins of good quality every year, which the state government procures. Students are also being taught about proper disposal of sanitary pads with separate dustbins and incinerators provided under the government's Clean Andhra Pradesh (CLAP) , a programme initiated to provide better sanitation services in rural and urban areas.

Under the Swechha initiative, awareness on menstruation is also being created for the students once every month by women teachers, ANMs, and women police.