Back to school time brings many worries for parents and children alike, but what if one of those worries was about the sanitation in schools? Sanitation techniques in schools often take years to improve, but in low-income areas, the improvements need to be happening now. Poor sanitation can come in many forms and children who have never known any different may not realize how unsanitary the conditions truly are.
Conditions that can be unsanitary
In many low-income areas children face conditions including some of the following:
- A shared drinking bucket for the entire classroom
- Only one-bathroom block
- No menstrual hygiene products
- No handwashing areas
- Improper cleaning of bathroom facilities
In an attempt to improve these conditions, many schools have started sanitation clubs. These sanitation clubs aim to improve the sanitary conditions to make learning easier and safer. To really appreciate how great the conditions have improved, you have to understand how bad they were before.
For instance, by implementing water fountains classrooms have been able to get rid of the shared drinking bucket. A shared drinking bucket spreads germs and disease among the children quickly as each child dips their cup in to get a drink, but drinking fountains have eliminated that danger. Students used to miss important lessons to use the bathroom block before it got congested during breaks, or even go outside in the bushes, but with larger bathroom blocks that’s no longer a problem. Added hand washing areas now allow children to clean their hands after using the bathroom blocks and accessible menstrual products mean that young girls don’t have to miss school during their period.
Schools have even been able to get the kids involved with the new changes by creating fun games to see whose turn it is to clean the bathroom block. With the fun and support of a sanitation club, kids are able to get involved in the improvements to their learning and health. Not only does this help to make their school day easier, but it begins teaching them important life skills, like proper bathroom cleaning, at a very young age. Children are becoming more focused on learning and less focused on basic necessities in these low-income areas. Hopefully, this is the way it will eventually be worldwide.
Schools that practice sanitation clubs have seen dramatically increased enrollment rates and better grades from students. Training is available for teachers who want to get involved in the program and they can pass down all of the new skills they learn onto their students. Improved sanitation techniques in low-income schools aren’t just an improvement, they’re a necessity.