What makes a nationally run scheme successful? Well, some would say implementation and visible “on ground change” as obvious indicators. However, in a complex country like India, where cleanliness and efficient solid waste management were alien topics existing in text books, assessment of success should be done a little liberally understanding the practical difficulties on ground. Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is a flagship scheme of the government of India to promote “clean India”. The scheme has been a vital ingredient behind rejuvenation of thought in the country.
The scheme has looked to target citizens from different backgrounds. One such initiative under the scheme is the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in Schools. Firstly, what are those ingredients that have Swachh Bharat Mission a success? Let’s have a look:
Outreach, Awareness and self-examination
This is the greatest achievement of the mission. Post 2014 is when I began seeing debates on how to keep surroundings clean, reduce garbage and promote recycling. This was probably existent before but let’s face it nobody was bothered. The kind of awareness building post 2014, amongst the masses has been phenomenal. There is increased emphasis on why toilets are important. Schools are being encouraged to teach children on what increased hygiene could help achieve. All modes of media have been tapped to spread the message of Swachh Bharat Shreshtha Bharat. Time and again the prime minister has reached out to the masses via Mann ki Baat reiterating the importance of cleanliness and sanitation.
The planning and execution as far as outreach and awareness are concerned have been immaculate. Right ambassadors were roped in for promoting national schemes. National icons derive a lot of respect from citizens and hence have been successful in propagating the message. Brand ambassadors like Amitabh Bachchan, Vidya Balan and Sachin Tendulkar have definitely made an impact with their messages. Let’s have a look how:
Self examination, I would say has been a by product of this extended awareness campaign. For instance, an advertisement on open defecation by Ms. Vidya Balan tends to plant a seed for self interrogation in the masses. Prime Minister coming out to wield the broom on the roads have definitely sent out a message to the citizens on importance of cleanliness.
2. Tapping the imagination of youth of the country
Energy, initiative and most importantly motivation are things we associate with children. These are some traits that Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in Schools has tried to tap. A young brigade has been given the opportunity to lead the charge against the biggest problem faced by society. According to the MHRD, India boasts of 15,16,865 schools in the country (2014-15). With 29.5% of the population between the age group of 0-14, this is probably is the largest platform for launching a national movement. Children are mindful flag bearers and play a critical role in the success of this movement.
3. “My role in Swachh Bharat Abhiyan” for students
The youth are the backbone of the country. With about 30% of our population below the age of 15 years, it is a powerhouse of energy and enthusiasm. The expectation of a student from SBM is:
- To keep their surroundings clean which includes school, house and other places they visit.
- To act as a source of motivation to keep surroundings litter free.
- Ask elders, teachers and people the right questions to help bring about changes in behaviour, and attitude. Some questions could be:
- Is there a law to stop the public from littering or peeing in the open?
- What could we do with the waste that we throw out in the bins?
- Take responsibility to ensure that food waste, wrappers, plastic covers doesn’t get thrown out while on the road or any public place. If possible, try and make others understand.
- Always look for a dustbin while you want to discard anything.
- If you find someone on the street trying to dump waste, feel bold to explain why this might not be the greatest idea. Remember you are fighting for a bigger cause.
- Talk to friends at school and nearby regarding how we can keep our surroundings clean.
- Talk to your teacher to hold class discussions on such topics so that everyone can benefit.
4. Dedicated initiatives like Swachh Bharat Swachh Vidyalaya targeting schools
Swachh Bharat SwachhVidyalaya or Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in schools has been the mission motivating young bright minds in the country towards a clean India. The initiative aims at ensuring every school in India is well equipped with sanitation, drinking water and hygiene facilities. Some essential measures under this initiative are captivating and have drilled down to the basics:
a. Emphasis on clean drinking water:
Daily provision of clean drinking water for the kids attending school has to be practiced as a part of the initiative. Further, emphasis must also be laid on safe handling and storage of the water. DISE statistics (2013-14) shows 193 million children in schools have access to drinking water while 5 million children still do not have access to it.
b. Promoting hand washing as a habit:
Schools under the programme must target at setting up simple facilities for groups of students to wash hand at the sametime. The guidelines also mention that teachers must take the lead to educate the students through hand washing sessions to wash hands before and after the mid-day meals. These sessions may also be utilized by the teachers to emphasize on the benefits of healthy hand washing techniques.
c. Basic Sanitation and hygiene facilities:Separate toilets for boys & girls
The guidelines mention that schools should have separate toilets for boys and girls. Generally one unit must have a toilet plus 3 urinals. The ratio of toilets to students may be maintained at 1:40. This has been an underlying problem at many places in the country. Emphasis on separate toilets for girls has been a critical move especially in schools from villages. The government figures show that the number of schools having separate toilets for boys and girls have increased from 0.4 million in 2005-06 to almost 1 million in 2013-14.
d. Swachh Vidyalaya Puraskar honoring Swachh Bharat activities in schools
The Swacch Vidyalaya Puraskar was flagged off by the Government of India to identify and appreciate excellence in hygiene and sanitation practices in schools. The underlying idea was to honour the schools taking an initiative to create a better environment for the students. All government schools from rural and urban areas are allowed to enroll for the same. Schools can register and submit information as per prescribed format on the MHRD portal or by downloading the Swachh Vidyalaya Puraskar mobile app available on Google Play store.
The marking categories included:
|3.||Handwash with Soap||20|
|4.||Operation and Maintenance||15|
|5.||Behaviour Change and capacity building||15|
The schools are then rated using a colour code based on the levels of adherence –
|1.||Green||90-100% adherence to the norms|
|2.||Blue||75-89% adherence to the norms|
|3.||Yellow||51-74% adherence to the norms|
|4.||Orange||35-50 % adherence to the norms|
District, state and national awards are then given out to eligible schools.
Source: Swachh Vidyalay Puraskar Guidelines
5. Channelizing funding sources for national causes:
When Prime Minister announced the Swachh Bharat, a financial kitty called the Swachh Bharat Kosh was established to meet the objectives of the national mission. Established in 2014, under the Ministry of Finance, the kosh aims at attracting CSR funds, contributions from individuals and philanthropists. Under the companies Act 2013, certain profitable companies are required to spend atleast 2% of their three year annual average towards CSR activities during a fiscal year.
In a latest report by the Financial express, Minister of state for corporate affairs said that an assessment of CSR expenditure of 5097 firms indicates that these companies spent 355 crore in 2015-16 towards Swachh Bharat Kosh.
Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in Schools has indeed been a path breaking initiative by the Government of India. Have you visited any government schools that have implemented these measures. Don’t forget to write in with your experience.