Schools Face Severe Bathroom Shortage: Gov’t

A severe shortage of bathroom facilities in schools across the country means that the Ministry of Education now requires all new school campuses to include an adequate number of toilets in their building plans.

There are 9,431 preschools, primary, secondary and high schools throughout Cambodia, and, on average, each school needs at least 10 more toilets, Koeur Naileang, sec­retary-general for the Ministry of Education, said Tuesday.

Currently, Koeur Naileng said, only 24.3 percent of primary schools and a mere 2.8 percent of secondary schools have proper toilet facilities.

“We need unlimited toilets to be constructed,” Koeur Naileang said by telephone.

In an attempt to address the shortage, a new ministry directive re­quires that two toilets must be in­stalled in new schools for every five classrooms, he said, though he did not know the exact date of when the new rule was put forward.

“I frequently cannot compete with other female students to get into the toilets because so many crowds of students are in line during our 15-minute break,” said Chanleng, a 16-year-old ninth-grade student at Phnom Penh’s Chom­pou One High School.

Not helping the situation, students said, is the fact that school officials charge fees for bathroom use on urban school campuses.

Chanleng said that she and her classmates pay 50 cents, or 2,000 riel, a month for the use of school toilets.

Khem Bun, the headmaster of Chompou One high school, said his campus has around 15 toilets and needs at least 20 more for his more than 4,500 students.

Students are never forced to pay to use toilets, he said, but community members and parents of the students donate 1,500 riel a year for their upkeep, he said.

“Because we could not get water access, some local authorities and students’ parents contribute money once a year to pay for pumping water from the pond to store in the basin for [bathroom] use,” he said.

Koeur Naileang also defended the contribution, saying it was necessary due to low school funding from the government.

A deputy director at Wat Koh high school, Khat Dara Rachana, said the 3,500 students who attend his campus are not required to pay for toilets or bathroom cleaning, but he acknowledged that some students pay cleaners between 100 to 200 riel to use toilets.

Chhun Sarom, Wat Koh High School’s headmaster, said there are 19 clean toilets on the campus—female students use nine of them, and four others are strictly for teachers and lecturers to use. But the school needs at least 10 more to meet demand, he added.

“At the present time, we are facing a shortage of clean toilets, especially during the cool season,” Chhun Sarom said.

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