Thousands of students across India test groundwater for fluoride on March 22, 2012

school water portal Arghyam

Leading up to World Water Day on March 22nd 2012, Schools Water Portal partnered with Oracle Education Foundation in a Water Quality Testing Programme with schools across India to spread awareness on fluoride contamination in groundwater.

The programme was conducted with 1,339 schools from places as far reaching as Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan and Delhi Public School both participated, as well as other schools from across the country. 

A fluoride testing kit was sent to each school, and instructions on using the kit, collecting groundwater samples and testing for fluoride were put up on Schools Water Portal. Teachers could also access learning resources like presentations and fact sheets on fluoride and fluorosis on Schools Water Portal, which they used in class to complement the practical water testing exercise. Teachers submitted the results of the testing through a simple online form, enabling easy, decentralised data collection. See the programme page here.


Fluoride testing kit

Figure 1: Fluoride Testing Kit

SWP home page

Figure 2: Schools Water Portal home page

The Water Quality Testing Programme was an experiment using the internet to sensitise school children on the widely prevalent issue of fluoride in drinking water, a problem that affects 6.6 crore people in 19 states of India*. More than 20,000 students across India learned about the harmful effects of fluoride in groundwater, and the resulting health implications of fluorosis. 
Teachers and students showed immense appreciation for the programme, saying that what they learned about fluoride contamination was invaluable. Nisha Saxena of Kendriya Vidyalaya Allahabad went beyond the fluoride testing, arranging a talk by an expert on fluoride contamination in the school assembly. Kendriya Vidyalaya Mangalore created a blog showing their participation in the programme, while another teacher, Naveen Verma, shared pictures of his class doing a skit on fluoride, with some students reciting poems and enacting a mime for the rest of the school (see figure 5 below).
Testimonials received from teachers
Thanks for providing us with an opportunity to be a part of your nationwide project. We had an excellent learning experience.”
- Sumathi Madhavan of Kendriya Vidyalaya Koliwada, Mumbai
“Today's project members may be tomorrow’s scientists. This project is one of the most innovative projects reflecting real life in the 21stcentury. My students really enjoyed it.”
- Mr. Sreejith, Kendriya Vidyalaya teacher
“The project was excellent. It created awareness among students about groundwater contamination and the importance of water in our system. The test was very simple and the results were visible. It really created a scientific temper among the students who did it enthusiastically and brought water samples from different places tirelessly. We hope you bring more projects of this kind and request you to include us in your future projects.”
- Gayatri V. from Kendriya Vidyalaya Dharwad
KV Ujjain BhopalGovernment High School Bangalore

Figure 3: Kendriya Vidyalaya Ujjain, Bhopal                          Figure 4: Government High School, Bangalore

Students performing skitDPS International, New Delhi

Figure 5: Students performing skit on fluoride                            Figure 6: Delhi Public School, New Delhi

Social media played an important role in this programme, enabling teachers and students to share their learning experiences with each other. An open Facebook Group allowed teachers and students to share their pictures and videos and interact with each other, creating a buzzing community online. 
Facebook Group home page

Figure 7: Facebook Group home page

The enthusiastic participation of students is evident from the pictures and videos that the teachers took to document the process. To view all the pictures and videos on the Facebook Group, click here.
Photos and videos

Figure 8: Photos and videos contributed by teachers and students on Facebook

The fluoride levels recorded by schools around India were visualised on an online map. The map shows fluoride results submitted by each school. Every coloured dot represents the average of all results submitted by each school. Of the total samples tested, green indicates a result of up to 1.5 mg/l which is within the permissible level for fluoride. Orange represents fluoride levels between 1.5 and 2 mg/l, which is above the permissible level of fluoride according to the Bureau of Indian Standards but still at a level where coping mechanisms exist (such as rainwater harvesting, water filters and better nutrition). Red represents a result of more than 2 mg/l, which indicates a dangerous level of fluoride.
As of March 17th 2012, 679 schools have submitted results. However Schools Water Portal is still receiving results from schools. See the map online here.

Map of fluoride results

Figure 9: Map

For more information contact:
Priya Desai / Reena Pinto
Schools Water Portal
Arghyam, Bangalore
Ph: +91 80 4169 8941/42 Ext. 33
E: / /
Post By: chetana