CHENNAI: Inspired by neighbouring Kerala’s initiative to ring reminder bell for students to sip water in class, the state government on Thursday announced to allot five to 10 minutes daily to encourage children to drink water in the class and remain hydrated.
This water breaks will be strictly enforced and the government will come out with a GO stipulating ‘water’ bell in schools, School education minister K. A. Sengottaiyan has said. The announcement, on Children’s Day, gladdened the hearts of parents and NGOs, as it has come as a huge relief since the children often return home with their water bottles half or nearly full of water.
A survey in Chennai, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad and Bengaluru, by #ringthebellforwater campaign of the Association of Primary Education (APER) and Research, showed that nearly 68 per cent of children bring home their water bottles still full, indicating that they do not drink water in school.
And 72 per cent among the 600 students surveyed said they don’t drink water in the class, as their teachers refuse to allow them to go to toilet. About 79 per cent of the teachers who responded said they do not allow the kids to drink water during the class as it often followed by a request to use the toilet.
On Thursday after participating in the Children’s Day programme at St. Bede’s Anglo Indian School, Santhome, here, Mr Sengottaiyan said the ‘water’ bell would be rung at the end of each period. “This is being done to ensure the children remained healthy,” he added.
Not just Tamil Nadu, even Karnataka government is planning to introduce water bell in schools at regular intervals. Kerala government announced to launch the initiative after doctors pointed out that the number of urinary infection cases were on the rise among children. Paediatricians recommend that students drink three to four litres water per day.
At a press conference, Kerela’s Primary and Secondary Education Minister S. Suresh Kumar said the Kerala government would introduce water bell in schools to help the students hydrated.
The bell will ring thrice a day - first at around 10:35 am, second bell at 12 noon and the third bell at 2 pm. The water break will last for 15 to 20 minutes. Students will have to drink water when the bell rings.
The ‘water’ bell may turn the focus of parents on school toilets. Many opine that the onus is on school management to ensure toilets remain clean and functional.