We all know that girls in Afghanistan are least exposed to
learning opportunities. Afghan girls face poverty, lack of sanitation, and most
importantly social norms that force them to drop out before they even start
learning. Girls in rural areas enroll in school by the age of 7 and drop out by
the age of 12-13.
This article focuses on the lack of clean toilets and the lack of sanitary awareness that leads to dropping out. The majority of the cases that LEARN studied in Arghandab Kandahar had one factor in common 12-13-year-old girls drop out the most. But why a 12-year-old girl drops out in first place? one of the major reasons is the lack of “clean toilets”.
Afghan public schools lack clean toilets, talking about it is a taboo. The government schools have toilets that smell, the toilets don’t have running water, stepping in or passing the toilet on your way to any class one feels uncomfortable. The permission to use a toilet for a girl is already a taboo when she has started menstruating recently. But the horror of going to one and using it is a haunting story for itself.
This piece focuses on why clean toilets are important.
Because as women have small urethras they cannot hold urine as compared to the
men. It’s important to understand that young girl who is menstruating if they
don’t change pads or don’t use washroom they will develop UTI (Urinary tract
infection), which results in either absentees or a girl to permanently drop out
of school. Because of the shame, one has to go through for a stained shirt or
trousers in schools.
How to combat toilet problems in Afghan public schools.
1: School administrative staff should be held accountable.
2: Toilets in schools should be cleaned and sanitation should be maintained.
3: Permission to go to the washroom should be questioned we don’t need children especially girls asking for permission to relieve themselves. (Let them be)
4: New washrooms should be engineered well in schools that the Ministry of Education is planning on building or currently runs.
5: A basic WASH workshop should be part of the curriculum for children to understand how to use toilets. What is sanitation why being it important.
Toilets are not rockets. Clean toilets mean less number of girls being absent. As adults, we owe it to our younger generation to give them facilities that they need on an everyday basis to learn and serve this country.
The writer is Pashtana Durrani, an activist, educator, innovator, and writer. She currently is Executive Director of @LEARNAfg. Global youth representative for Amnesty International and contributes to Afghanistan Times.