Published: 16th November 2020
Social Justice Dept report slams IGNOU's Kochi centre for keeping toilets locked, leaving disabled student in distress
Recently, a student named Meera U Menon has sent multiple emails to the authorities, alleging that she had no access to a disabled-friendly toilet during her exam
An inquiry by the Social Justice Department of the Government of Kerala revealed that the old block of the Indira Gandhi National Open University's Kochi Regional Centre does not have a toilet for disabled students. The inquiry was conducted on November 4, after a complaint by a disabled student named Meera U Menon.
A PG Diploma student in Women and Gender Studies, in the university, Meera alleged that she wasn't able to access a disabled-friendly toilet at the centre on the day of her examination on October 16. Meera suffers from a disability called Spina bifida that affects her spinal cord, owing to which she has problems with bladder control. She said previously that owing to the same, she was forced to use an Indian commode and that she had ended up wetting herself before writing the exam.
"The exam was held on the second floor of the old block. This building has a toilet for men and an Indian commode for women, neither of which are disabled-friendly," reads the report. "Owing to COVID, these toilets were locked, forcing the students to use the toilet on the ground floor of the new block. This is injustice. Everything mentioned in (Meera's) complaint is true," it reads. It also noted that all the toilets on the old block were reserved for the IGNOU staff.
The report also seeks IGNOU to ensure that all the floors where exams are held must have both western and Indian commodes for the students and allot an exam hall on the ground floor for all disabled students. It also asks the university to ensure these facilities and provide drinking water and fans for the students who will write their exams in February 2021.
"This is quite a relief," says Meera. "I am extremely happy that the department took swift action here. I hope that no other student has to go through what I did in the future," she adds.