Until 2021, the akimats of cities and regions of Kazakhstan should totally eliminate outdoor school toilets and build them inside educational institutions. This decision was taken after a schoolgirl was raped in an outdoor toilet.
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Kazakhstan is a country that seeks to become a very serious tourism player on the global map. Yet, the country has only two toilets that meet global standards. The study was conducted by representatives of the Ministry of Culture and Sport, according to vice-head of the agency, Yerlan Kozhagapanov.
At the recent meeting of the interagency committee on protection of children’s rights, it was reported that 2,352 schools with outdoor toilets are operating in Kazakhstan. The majority of them are located in Turkestan region – 541 schools, or 60 per cent, in Zhambyl region – 264 schools, or 59.7 per cent, and in Almaty region – 415 schools, or 54.6 per cent.
It turns out that pupils of almost 2.5 thousand schools can go to an outside toilet. The country has about seven thousand schools in total, and in six regions the outdoor temperature gets as low as 30 degrees below zero in winter.
In mid-November, the country’s president Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev was indignant at the condition of roadside toilets.
Глава государства: Имеются существенные факторы, которые сдерживают приток туристов. О каком сервисе можно говорить, если мы не можем привести в порядок самое необходимое – придорожные туалеты, об ужасном состоянии которых не говорил разве что ленивый?
— Ақорда Баспасөз қызметі (@AkordaPress) November 14, 2019
Head of state: “There are significant factors that impede the inflow of tourists. How can we speak about service, if we cannot get roadside toilets in order? Everyone knows they are in horrible state.”
On November 15, a 12-year-old girl was raped during lessons in a school toilet in the town of Taraz. As it turned out, the school had only one toilet, which was usually closed, so children had to go to an outside toilet. All passers-by have access to it, as well.
The suspect in the crime was detained and placed into the pre-trial detention facility. According to the Police Department, 19 years ago he had been convicted and served four years in prison for rape.
Later on, the regional department of education fired the school principal, deputy principal on educational work, the teacher who excused the girl from class, and the guard. The president of the country ordered to fire the akim of the town.
Following this case, the government started to raise the issue of outdoor school toilets in the county.
“Zhambyl region, Shymkent, Turkestan region, Almaty region have 90 per cent of toilets outdoors. How many children should be raped and killed in these school toilets to make the situation change? We are not developing as a state,” Zhanna Akhmetova, a member of the republican council for protection of children’s rights, said.
“The issue must be solved”
After the notorious case in Taraz, minister of education and science of Kazakhstan Askhat Aimagambetov said the agency should probably revise qualification requirements to educational facilities, as well as ask the ministry of health to prescribe that there should be no outdoor school toilets.
“In this case, akimats will have to take real measures to maintain school licence and to keep the school working. No one can build indoor toilets in a day as there are remote locations. Nevertheless, the issue can be and must be solved,” Aimagambetov said.
This case alarmed the parents of pupils. A resident of Karaganda region, Sabyrzhan Batyrkulov, said he’s afraid to let his daughters go to school.
“Billions are being allocated to school repair works, but school toilets are in horrible state. It’s the worst shame I can ever imagine. No one bothers about girls who can get sick, especially in winter. The school has a toilet, but children are not allowed to go there if they want to go number two. My youngest daughter had an abdominal distension because of that and we even called the ambulance,” Batyrkulov said.
However, a resident of Nur-Sultan, Samat Iskakov, thinks the situation cannot be mended at once.
“I wonder if they can build toilets by 2030 or 2050. It’s not a problem to build them inside buildings; the problem is that they have no sewer networks. This is a very serious issue. If they are placed inside buildings, the network won’t have the capacity to drain all the waste products,” Iskakov said.
Psychologist Aliya Baizdrakhmanova said she visited Almaty region during the workshop in -early September. And one of rural schools had a few indoor toilets, but all of them were closed.
“All toilets had huge locks on them. Children, teachers, staff have to go to an outside toilet. Water supply hoses, pipes were randomly lying at the school yard. The principal was not available on that day, while the colleague and I wanted to talk to him about the school toilet problem,” Baizdrakhmanova said.
However, the staff of the educational institution said the principal himself used the indoor toilet, not the outdoor one.
“It’s winter ahead, school toilets are not heated, they have no doors, they have insanitary conditions. Those convicted of rape serve their terms, leave penal institutions across Kazakhstan. This is a kind of a vicious circle. Altogether we should think about breaking it and protecting the future of our country,” the psychologist said.
At a recent session, the government decided to make akimats of towns and regions of Kazakhstan totally eliminate outdoor school toilets by 2021 and build them inside educational institutions. The budget for the three-year period has been already approved. In 2020, expenses will be 15 billion tenge (38.8 million dollars), in 2021 – 17.6 billion tenge (45.56 million dollars), in 2022 – 8.1 billion tenge (20.97 million dollars). It’s still unclear where the akimats will take money from, whether they will involve sponsors or save on other facilities.
Данный материал подготовлен в рамках проекта IWPR «Giving Voice, Driving Change — from the Borderland to the Steppes Project».