In a laudable move, the Uttar Pradesh government will soon provide free sanitary napkins to reduce the absenteeism of girls in schools during their periods, an official said, adding the move follows growing concerns over personal hygiene of girls attaining puberty.
Nodal teachers will be appointed by the education department to distribute sanitary napkins and give related information in the presence of Accredited social health activist (ASHA) workers, Chief Secretary Alok Ranjan said.
"To break the wrong opinions and myths in the girls concerning menses, it is a must initiative," Ranjan told IANS.
The distribution of sanitary napkins would be part of the 'Kishori Suraksha Yojana' initiated by the state and all district magistrates (DMs) would be held responsible for its successful implementation.
Basic Shiksha Adhikari (BSA) and the district inspector of schools (DIOS) have been tasked to provide sanitary pads at block-level schools.
The scheme will cover students from classes 6 to 12.
Government officials pointed out that over 40 percent girls drop out of schools owing to the hormonal changes in the body, the physical and mental effect, and due to the hesitation and lack of information.
A circular signed by the chief secretary has already been issued to all DMs and the health, primary and higher secondary education, Panchayati Raj and Information and Public Relations departments have been asked to coordinate the scheme.
Officials said a major publicity campaign for girls to use sanitary napkins to enable them to understand their importance and use after purchasing would also be launched soon.
The Primary and Higher Secondary Education Department would provide sanitary napkins on the basis of the number of registered girls in government and basic schools (Class VI to XII) to the BRC (Block Resource Centre) so that nodal teachers of primary education department could easily receive them and provide them to the schools.
The napkins would be provided by Chief Medical Officers up to the Block level Community Health Centres (CHCs) and Primary Health Centres (PHCs) for eligible schools coming under the higher secondary education department so that principals of schools could distribute them easily.
Instructions have also been issued for schools to arrange dustbins at clean and dry places in schools for the disposal of sanitary napkins.
Other than this, education officials and teachers would have to compulsorily undergo menstrual hygiene (menses management) training workshops in all districts, so that girls get the maximum information related to cleanliness.
Many view this as a major initiative that would go a long way in ensuring personal hygiene among growing girls and also making sure that they don't miss school during their periods.
(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at email@example.com)