The Centre has asked the states to take urgent steps to provide proper sanitation facilities for girls studying in the more than 14 lakh rural schools in the country.
Quoting the latest District Information System for Education data, the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has said that girls in most of the 14.5 lakh rural schools are unable to use sanitation amenities due to the absence of piped water connection.
In a directive to the states, the ministry has said that the availability of water on school premises was a "primary requirement and it is incumbent upon state governments to provide this basic facility in all schools" within a suitable time-frame.
"It is requested that provision of 100% piped water supply to all rural schools be accorded top priority in your state," says the directive which has been sent to all the state chief secretaries.
According to a UNICEF study, adequate, well-maintained water supply and sanitation facilities in schools encourages children to be regular in their attendance. Inadequate water supply and sanitation is a health hazard and affects students' attendance and educational performance, UNICEF says.
According to UNICEF, in this regard, it is adolescent girls who are especially vulnerable to dropping out as many of them are reluctant to go to school because toilet facilities are not private and safe, or simply not available.