With the focus of the Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen (SBM-G) having shifted to sustainability of open defecation free (ODF) status, many districts are coming up with unique interventions which will not only support different segments of the society but will also ensure that sanitation behavior change is sustained. The district administration of Bhojpur in Bihar is planning to set up a study room in every block to cater to students of 8th to 10th grade who have no place to do their homework, study or prepare for exams.
The first study room was inaugurated in Charpokhari Block on 18th January, 2019. It has been set up in space that was set aside for a library project which did not take off. The plan is for using government infrastructure and IEC spend for furniture and other material to get the study rooms ready.
While one wall of the large room has an info-graphic depicting the ODF journey of the district, SBM-G overview, sanitation coverage, total sanitation timeline, number of toilets built, health and economic impact and other details, another wall is a wall of fame. It showcases the names and pictures of four Swachhagrahis who had struggled to make their villages ODF. The idea is to give visibility to swachhagrahis who have contributed to making the campaign a jan andolan.
Yet another wall has portrayed inspiring swachhata messages from the PM, MDWS Minister, Secretary-MDWS, DM, etc. The last wall has information and graphics pertaining to toilet technology; solid and liquid waste management and GOBARDhan scheme, all in coloured paint.
Similar events will be held in all the remaining 13 blocks of Bhojpur.
It was the district Zila Swachh Bharat Prerak (ZSBP), Mr. Nikhil Singh who came up with the idea, having seen many students sit under trees, behind their homes or outdoors trying to catch up with their academic work. In the absence of a silent space to study at their homes, the study room would be a boon to them, helping them to also prepare for competitive exams.
Getting the go-ahead from the Deputy Development Commissioner (DDC), Mr. Shashank Shubhankar, he prepared a proposal and got approval from the District Magistrate, Mr. Sanjeev Kumar.
“The light of sanitation can be kept alive for generations to come with these study rooms as they will consistently remind people of the benefits of adopting safe sanitation practice,” Nikhil said.
The district administration has enlisted the support of knowledge partners and NGOs to support this initiative; even as the local MLA has given his consent to provide MLA funds for the project. Hindustan Unilever has agreed to provide handholding support.
Students from Charpokhari block have already started visiting the study room and are delighted with the facility, as are their parents. “Children are eager to learn and their positive vibes can be channelized towards the sanitation campaign,” the prerak said.
The move is propagating the sanitation message and at the same time promoting education among both boys and girls. The study rooms will be supervised by a swachhagrahi. In addition, fortnightly lectures will be organized on pertinent topics. Talks have been held with a local news agency which has agreed to supply newspaper and other magazines, free of cost for the study rooms.
There will also be a notice board on which students’ work will be showcased.