As a large number of children around the world return to school, how do we ensure the environment they study in is safe?
As uncertainty continues to loom with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, ensuring water, sanitation and hygiene services in schools has never been more important.
This International Day of Education, we focus on the work we have been doing to help children return safely to schools, through the sustainable provision of water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities. Access to these basic services is crucial for recovering and revitalising education for the Covid-19 generation.
Whilst learning has moved online, the team has worked to ensure children are safe when schools reopen. 60 primary teachers and officials from local education departments participated in Training of Trainer events across three cities in December 2020. The events equipped teachers with the appropriate knowledge on water, sanitation, and hygiene as well as ways to share that knowledge with their students.
Mirza Nurun Nahar, Thana Education Officer of Chattogram said, “20 teachers from 10 primary schools (in Chattogram) were trained on delivering hygiene education to their students and this is a fantastic initiative from WSUP. Now the teachers are required to share this knowledge with their students and their parents.”
Hygiene awareness sessions were also conducted in the communities within the school catchment areas in Rangpur and this will be rolled out to other cities later this month.
Construction of 26 school WASH blocks have also taken place and school management committees have been set up to ensure that these new facilities are maintained under a financially sustainable management model.
Ghana and Kenya
Drawing up on our experience of delivering major handwashing campaigns, WSUP is a lead partner in multiple cities in Kenya and Ghana for the delivery of the UK government and Unilever initiative – Hygiene & Behaviour Change Coalition (HBCC).
In Ghana, School Hygiene and Education Programme (SHEP) coordinators and the officials from the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) participated in capacity building workshops focusing on hygiene behaviour change approaches.
Meanwhile in Kenya, teachers from 86 schools were trained on the School of 5 approach that targets handwashing with soap in preparation for school reopening. These were selected by the County Directorate of Education based on needs and priority.
The Ministry of Education through the School Health Division and its partners are working to support schools become WASH friendly. To receive a WASH friendly certification, schools need to adhere to certain minimum standards such as providing access to clean water and safe sanitation facilities, handwashing facilities with soap, and menstrual hygiene management.
We have been supporting schools to build the capacity of school staff, construct and rehabilitate sanitation blocks and handwashing points as well as promote good hygiene practices. School WASH committees have also been set up for the maintenance of the infrastructure and schools need to adhere to this to be recertified.
In Mozambique, we have been working on a long-term strategy to improve WASH facilities in schools. Through training of teachers and provision of handwashing points and soap, and hygiene promotion materials, we will be helping schools reopen safely. Watch our film to find out more:
Our schools work mentioned in this article is supported by The Coca-Cola Foundation, Dubai Cares, UK aid from the UK government, Unilever, USAID, and Wasser für Wasser.