|More than 200 students at Loc Bao Primary School in Bao Lam District have used makeshift open-air toilets in the school's backyard for more than seven years. — Photo vtv
LAM DONG (VNS) — In remote areas of Lam Dong Province, a total of 17 primary schools are without bathroom facilities, according to the provincial Education and Training Department.
In 40 other schools in the province, the toilets are out of order, lacking water to flush or are in disrepair, says the department.
But this is nothing new, according to the department's report, local primary schools and kindergartens suffered the situation for decades.
More than 200 students at Loc Bao Primary School in Bao Lam District have used makeshift open-air toilets in the school's backyard for more than seven years. At break time, teachers go back home to use their toilets; generally a 6-8km roundtrip.
Teacher Le Xuan Mai said the school operated without electricity, water or toilets for years.
Principal Dang Duc Nhan of Loc Bao Primary School said teachers have raised their concerns with the provincial education and training department several times but, so far, nothing has changed.
A wing of the school, which houses three classes, has two toilets that were built in 2008 and 2013 and cost VND165 million (US$8,000) and VND300 million ($15,000), respectively. The toilets would certainly help alleviate the situation, if they could be used. A lack of water means the toilets are locked and students must continue to resort to makeshift ones.
Two kindergartens in the district have gone without tap water or toilets for three years. Teachers had to lug water in from outside for the kids until parents chipped-in to buy water tanks.
Head of Bao Lam District's Education and Training Department, Le Duc admitted that the state of primary schools and kindergartens has been severely poor, forced to resort to makeshift classes without sanitation or any kind of infrastructure.
At present, the department has campaigned for investment to build bathrooms for students, but it has been hard.
Le Duc said building new bathrooms can only occur if it is attached to projects to build new classrooms; approval by district and provincial authorities for both takes time.
An official of the department, somewhat dismissed the urgency of the issue, arguing that many schools have only one or two classes of 20 to 50 students so building so many bathrooms will be costly and take time to get approval.
According to Dr Truong Huu Khanh of Paediatrics Hospital 1 in HCM City, schools without bathrooms should not be treated as a small issue. A lack of bathrooms causes big problems for children as well as the community such as heightened risk of gastrointestinal disease or disorder and respiration. — VNS