MANILA, Philippines?Militant teachers have deplored the severe shortage of toilets and hand-washing facilities in most, if not all of the 43,000-plus public elementary and high schools nationwide.
?The worst shortages are in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the National Capital Region (Metro Manila),? said Antonio Tinio, chair of the 15,000-strong Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT).
Tinio pointed out: ?The national toilet bowl to pupil ratio stands at 1:51 in primary schools and 1:102 in secondary schools. In the ARMM, it?s 1:171 in the elementary level and 1:250 in the secondary level while in NCR, it?s 1:114 and 1:143, respectively.?
?We challenge President Macapagal-Arroyo, Education Secretary Jesli Lapus and other top government officials to make use of these facilities themselves the next time they visit a public school. Go to the ones that students use, not the one reserved for VIPs. Maybe, this will spur them to act,? he said.
He noted that ?the national and regional statistics fail to communicate the full extent of the shortages at the school level.?
?Take the case of Silangan Elementary School (Annex) in Taguig, Metro Manila. Last year, all 2,031 students enrolled in that school were provided with one toilet bowl. That?s a toilet bowl to pupil ratio of 1:2,031,? said Tinio.
He cited other public schools in Metro Manila with disgraceful toilet bowl to pupil ratio: Gen. T. de Leon Elementary School in Valuenzela City, Caloocan Central Elementary School in Caloocan City, Tangos Elementary School in Malabon, San Antonio Elementary School in Parañaque City, Geronimo Santiago Elementary School in Manila, Bambang Elementary School in San Juan, Epifanio delos Santos Elementary School in Pasay City and Hen. Pio del Pilar Elementary School in Makati City.
Also cited were: Kalayaan National High School in Caloocan City, Tugatog National High School in Malabon, Pateros National High School in Pateros, Polo National High School in Valenzuela, Calderon Integrated School in Manila, Sta. Elena High School in Marikina, San Antonio National High School in Makati City, Andres Bonifacio Integrated School in Mandaluyong, and Las Piñas East National High School in Las Piñas.
?The government has an obligation to provide the country?s 19 million public school students with a safe and healthy learning environment. This includes the obligation to provide adequate toilets and hand-washing facilities,? said Tinio.
He added: ?The lack of facilities is often compounded by the lack of adequate water supply ... Other countries strive to attain a toilet per student ratio of 1:25 for girls and 1:30 for boys.?
In a statement, Tinio explained ?poor health is a major factor that contributes to high dropout rates, especially among underprivileged schoolchildren. Adequate toilets and wash basins are necessary to help reduce the risk of common illnesses, such as diarrhea, as well as flu and cold infections.?