Hyderabad: As schools in Telangana await to complete online classes, Rotary Club of Cyberabad (RCC) has already started making plans for welcoming kids to school. The volunteers of RCC have launched an app called 'Swach Toilet,' an artificial intelligence-based interface that helps schools to monitor the maintenance of school toilets.

The app available on Google Playstore is developed on the idea of sustainability. "Often, groups donate funds for building toilets in schools but later nobody cares about their maintenance. The Swach App initiative ensures that these toilets are maintained regularly," says Praveen Reddy Chintala, secretary of Rotary Club of Cyberabad, emphasising on the relevance of the initiative.

"The government doesn't have separate budgets for maintaining clean toilets in schools," says Praveen. It is here the initiative of NGOs like RCC becomes relevant.

The app requires a school staff member to click photos of their toilets and upload it every day on the app. The app then rates the toilets based on how well the cleanliness is maintained. This rating or score is a call to the school management to take steps for further improvement in the condition of their toilets.

According to a report published by the Unified District System for Education Plus (USIDE+) for the academic year 2019-2020, 12 percent of girl students dropped out of schools in the secondary school level (9th and 10th standards) due to lack of toilets. Although the dropout rate has been generally decreasing in the state of Telangana over the last few years, teachers across the state now fear a butterfly effect on the dropout rates due to the pandemic.

"There is a school near Nizam's college where there are 20 to 25 toilets but only 2-3 are usable," says Praveen. The volunteers who developed the app believe that cleaner toilets will help more girls to continue their school education. Initially, RCC plans to run the app in 5-6 schools in the city and then later extend it to schools in rural areas. However, it will take another one or two months for the live run to begin as the schools are still struggling to resolve the COVID-induced challenges.

Schools in Telangana reopened on September 1 but the students still have the option of attending classes online. Hence, RCC is continuing its efforts to distribute laptops and other gadgets helping students to attend classes online.

Nimisha S Pradeep

Hailing from Palakkad, Kerala, Nimisha completed her MA in Communication (with a specialization in Print and New Media) from the University of Hyderabad. She has interned with The Hindu Metroplus, Chennai and The Sentinel, Assam. She was a fellow of the NFI Fellowship for Independent Journalists in 2021. In 2015, she attended the Jenesys Student Exchange Programme in Japan. She firmly believes in the power of words and the impact it can make on society. She looks forward to using her career in journalism to voice the issues of minorities. Her interest areas include gender, women and society. She pursues travel, photography, and music in her leisure time.

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