In the times when the world is going through a global crisis, We, included. with support from Piramal School of Leadership of the Piramal Foundation is fighting CoVID-19 with a team of students from the Government Senior Secondary Schools in the villages of Jhunjhunu district in Rajasthan!
As per UNICEF Report, an estimated 1.9 billion school days could be gained if the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to safe water supply and sanitation are achieved and the incidence of CoVID-19 cases is reduced.
And one way were trying to achieve this was by providing schools with safe drinking water, improved sanitation facilities and hygiene education that encourages the development of healthy behaviours for life. This strategic approach is known as Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Education (WaSH) in Schools. The strategy has helped fulfil children’s rights to health, education and participation, and has been well recognised by the local communities for its significant contributions to achieving the SDGs – particularly those related to providing access to primary education, reducing child mortality, improving water and sanitation, and promoting gender equality.
WaSH in Schools has not only promoted hygiene and increased access to quality education but also supported national and local interventions to establish equitable, sustainable access to safe water and basic sanitation services in schools.
PURPOSE AND SCOPE
WaSH in Schools aims to improve the health and learning performance of school-aged children – and, by extension, that of their families – by reducing the incidence of water and sanitation-related diseases. Every child-friendly school requires appropriate WaSH initiatives that keep the school environment clean and free of smells and inhibit the transmission of harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites.
WaSH in Schools also focuses on the development of life skills and the mobilisation and involvement of parents, communities, governments and institutions to work together to improve hygiene, water and sanitation conditions. While there are many approaches based on differing cultural insights and environmental and social realities, our WaSH in Schools intervention included:
- Sustainable, safe water supply points, hand-washing stands and sanitation facilities;
- Fully integrated life skills education, focusing on key hygiene behaviours for school children and using participatory teaching techniques;
- Outreach to families and the wider community.
We, included. and our team of students are now on a mission to spread awareness about CoVID-19 virus and possible solutions to prevent it from spreading in the community.
Our team has made WaSH Clubs in the thirty Government Senior Secondary Schools including the representatives from students and faculty, headed by the Principals who are also the Panchayat Elementary Education Officers (PEEOs) of that region. The Clubs will specifically be focusing on:
- Education: Teachers trained to teach hand washing, begin taking daily attendance, and supervise daily group hand washing at mealtimes.
- Facilities: Establish low-cost, improved water supply, hand washing facilities, and gender-segregated toilets.
- Behaviour Change: Daily supervised hand washing before school meals and at group toilet times.
- Management: Plans created for operational maintenance and menstrual hygiene management.
And thus, students together are going to play a very vital role in preventing this crisis and being the agents of change and awareness in their community.
How can children pass on their hygiene knowledge to peers, family and community?
- Spread the knowledge they have learned in school by talking with friends and parents about their hygiene lessons.
- Teach by example, washing their hands with soap at critical times.
- Work together to spread ideas and take action in the community, for example organising clean-up days
We, included.‘s vision is to set at-least the minimum standards for WaSH in Schools by adopting national, regional and local standards for WaSH in Schools, based on UNICEF-WHO guidelines. The final objective will be to involve multiple stakeholders to support WaSH in Schools programmes. Community members, civil society advocates, members of the media, students, school staff, local and regional authorities, non-governmental organisations, faith-based groups, public-private partnerships, and ministries of education, water, health and finance, as well as donors, can all support planning and action for WaSH in Schools.
With this project of WaSH in Schools under We, included. initiative, we will be impacting more than 1500 students’ lives in 10 different communities in Rajasthan.