Over 600 rural schools don’t have children-friendly toilets

Children in a rural school enjoy the new facilities that are tailor-made for them

Teaching inconvenience

Over 600 rural schools don’t have children-friendly toilets

  • 10-year-old Gihan, of Gallandala Kanishta Vidyalaya, in Galle district said: “we do not have latrines. We only have a urinal but it does not have either water supply or a roof. We cannot use it on rainy days.”
  • “Our latrine is located on a slope, and moreover, close to the boys’ urinal. During the break there is a big queue and no water supply to keep the latrines clean,” said Hansi, aged 9 years.

An astonishing fact is that 600 out of the 10,000 schools in Sri Lanka do not have toilet facilities at all for the students.

In an attempt to start creating an environment where all children have a sanitary and hygienic learning environment a Child Friendly Water and Sanitation Project was launched in 24 schools in Galle, Matara and Hambantota districts, implemented by the Ministry of Education, UNICEF, Malteser International and UNOPS.

Malteser International Assistant Project Coordinator Lasantha Herath said the project included motivating the schools to maintain the water and sanitation facilities provided plus a module on participatory health education so that the kids could be empowered to keep the toilets clean themselves.

The kids had an acute and distressing problem before the sanitation project was implemented. 10-year-old Gihan, a student of Gallandala Kanishta Vidyalaya, located in Udugama in Galle district said: “we do not have latrines. We only have a urinal but it does not have either water supply or a roof. We cannot use it on rainy days.”

The girls in the school had another view: “Our latrine is located on a slope, and moreover, close to the boys’ urinal. During the break there is a big queue and no water supply to keep the latrines clean” said Hansi, aged 9 years.

According to Lasantha, there was something they hid during the discussion. The girls did not have any privacy because the door of the latrine cannot be closed properly. These problems were not confined to this particular school but were common to children in 24 schools in Galle, Matara and Hambantota districts. Lack of sanitation and hygiene facilities in schools has a stronger negative impact on girls than on boys. Girls need safe, clean, separated and private sanitation facilities in their schools.

“It is interesting to know why children are reluctant to use school sanitation facilities and maintain them for the next generation. Malteser International tried to find the answers. During discussions with children, it was identified that the smell, lack of water and privacy as well as low quality construction were serious problems the children faced,” Lasantha said.

The child-friendly bottom-up approach values the opinion of the end user of sanitary facilities. The school children who ultimately benefit from the improved facilities in schools are consulted with regard to the type of facility, its location, design and selection of colours before the project is implemented. This approach has a positive influence on the feeling of ownership, leading to a willingness to actively maintain the facilities. Children who participated in efforts to create a safer and more sanitary environment learn about health through personal involvement. This is an effective way to help young people to acquire knowledge, attitudes, values and skills needed to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Not only students, but teachers, particularly lady teachers, too faced the problem of lack of sanitation in the school. “Now we are sharing the facilities with girl students. Also we would like to suggest at least one commode type latrine for our schools because when our children go to Colombo for an event such as a sports meet, an exhibition or a trip for a couple of days they have to use the commode type which they are not used to” said Mrs. Sumana Ranatunga, (name has been changed) a Grade 3 Class Teacher.

Malteser International conducted a survey that provided the insights they needed about the Knowledge, Attitude, Practice and Behavior to design child friendly water and sanitation facilities. UNICEF converted this information to technical drawings by reflecting vital comments given by the school community. Special attention was paid to height and age of the children when designing sanitary facilities and hand washing stations. At the end of the participatory planning, 11 child-friendly technical drawings were developed by UNICEF and UNOPS has constructed Water & Sanitation facilities in 24 schools in Galle, Matata and Hambatotota.

Children, parents and teachers helped in the supervision of the construction and children especially keenly observed each step as their latrines were built and recorded the progress from foundation to roof with Malteser International encouraging the participatory monitoring activities of the children.

The responsibility of operation and maintenance was given to the school health clubs. These health clubs were strengthened with equipment such as notice boards, First-aid kits and cleaning equipment for latrines. Now the health clubs have developed operation and maintenance plans for their sanitation facilities together with teachers and parents. Some health clubs even held street dramas related to health issues to enhance awareness. Wadiya Silva Kanishta Vidyalaya in Hambatota district was one of the schools that were active in staging street dramas.

These problems were not confined to this particular school but were common to children in 24 schools in Galle, Matara and Hambantota Districts.
Source : TheBottomLine

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One Response

  1. […] cholera, typhoid fever or even dysentery.  These water-borne infections are claiming the lives of beautiful children who deserve the change to experience what it feels like to have bathed with a clean water supply […]

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