The directives were issued on the suggestion of department officials in response to complaints from principals
Far behind the target, a district magistrate in Uttar Pradesh has come out with a bizarre way to make Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachch Bharat Mission a great success in schools when she made it mandatory of all primary school teachers to send their ‘selfie with toilet’ by 27th of every month for the release of their salaries.
On the directives of Sitapur District Magistrate Sheetal Verma, the Basic Education department drafted a form with columns of filling up their details like name, address, post, place of posting, caste, Aadhar card number, mobile number etc. The form would be considered incomplete if they did not paste a picture of ‘selfie with toilet’ on top of the form.
The department has sent these forms to all primary schools in Sitapur district directing all government primary school teachers to fill it and send it back to the department for the release of their salaries.
The District Magistrate Sheetal Verma claimed that the Swachch Bharat Mission was a great success in the district but there were few grey areas which needed correction. Primary government schools were one of them where even the teachers were not using the toilets constructed for both males and females.
On complaints from their Principals, the issue was discussed with basic education department officials how to make teachers use the toilets so that children also followed them, the DM pointed. The ‘selfie with toilet’ directives were issued on the suggestion of the department officials only, she clarified.
Despite launching a number of awareness programs in the district, such complaints continue to pour in from schools forcing us to take small punitive action to make teachers mend their ways, said an official of the basic education department.
“Government had spent crores of rupees to construct toilet and create hygienic conditions to keep the schools clean but teachers in schools falling in remote rural areas continue to urinate and defecate in open. We had no choice than to go a little tougher on them to change their old habits,” said the official.
The official claimed that the ‘selfie with toilet’ order had dual purpose. One was to make them change their habits and another was to keep a watch on their attendance in the school. “We have selected one student in each primary school who will report to us about teachers’ punctuality and attendance,” said the official.
But the ‘selfie with toilet’ directive has become a headache for teachers who have no choice but to comply with the order. “I had a lot of difficulty in taking the selfie. I took help from a student to click my photo with toilet for the release of my salary for the month of May,” said a teacher in Laharpur village in the district.
The Principal of Primary School in Bhatiari village under Sakaran block, Bhagwati Singh said that he faced a lot of problem in clicking the selfie. “I used a stool in the toilet to get clicked by a teacher. Though teachers are up in arms against the directives but I am happy that many of them have started using toilets and are encouraging students also,” he claimed.
Another teacher in Talgaon area called a professional photographer to get his picture clicked with toilet. “If it was not linked with the salary then many of us would not have followed the diktat,” said he
Students are happy that toilets which used to be closed during school hours and were in bad shape are now being cleaned up on daily basis by the sweeper of the school who would come to the school only to collect his salary. “We used to reach schools half an hour early. We are forced by the head master sahib to clean the class rooms first before studies begin. But now even the sweeper comes to the school not only to clean classrooms but toilets also. Moreover we don’t have to clean dishes also after eating our mid-day meal,” chuckles Himanshu, a class IV student.
There is a sense of fear as well as responsibility also after the ‘selfie with toilet’ order. “It was the first month and we are flooded with filled forms. They fear that their salaries would not be released in their bank accounts if they failed to submit the filled form with selfie,” smiles official.
The official claimed that the department has no intentions of blocking salaries of teachers. “We will only delay salaries of those who did not submit the form for few days so that they realize the importance of cleanliness in life,” said the official.
Such measures are not uncommon in Uttar Pradesh which is far behind in toilet construction. The Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has set a target of making all 75 districts in the state open defecation free (ODF) by October 18. So far about a dozen districts have been declared OFD and state has go a long way to achieve the target.
In Unnao and Lucknow rural areas, the district administration had snapped power connections from houses not having toilets last year. However, the drive was called off when media highlighted the issue.
To encourage use of toilets in slum areas in Kanpur, the district administration offered tea and breakfast to those using toilets. On the other hand, posters were put up in few districts of backward Bundelkhand to cut government facilities to those not constructing toilets in their houses.
“Along with construction of toilets under Swachch Bharat Abhiyan, we also carry out drives to encourage the people to use them and keep their surroundings clean. Old habits die hard. There is need to change their mindset also, particularly those living in remote villages,” stated a senior officer of Panchayat Raj department.
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