Catch them Young: School Sanitation
In Raina district, West Bengal, primary school children are acting as major change agents. They have been assigned the role of health soldiers. These health soldiers are asked to report any wrong practices with regard to hygiene behavior (e.g. not cleaning latrine after usage) which they may observe during the day, to the teacher. The children also identify the sanitation problems in the school premises and in the village, and make maps. Each week children and teachers check a number of hygiene and cleanliness habits or places in the school. These are entered on to a chart where progress can be seen as time goes by. The teachers tell stories and do activities with the children to help them understand the importance of sanitation. The teachers as well as the children demonstrate to the class different hygienic practices like washing hands, personal hygiene, etc.
 
Further, to facilitate active hygiene practices to happen all over the village, there are various capacity building programmes for Guardian representatives, Village Water Committee members, panchayat members and anganwadi members. What is happening in Raina district is one of many examples of what is taking place all over the country as part of the School Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene Education (SSHE) effort under the Total Sanitation Campaign launched by Government of India. In Raina district, the programme has achieved 80 per cent target for water supply and 50 per cent target for latrines.
Components of SSHE: The implementation of SSHE takes a holistic approach by recognizing that while availability of facilities is important, the students and teachers need also to be oriented towards better sanitary practices. To achieve this, the SSHE programme has a Hardware Component which is the total package of drinking water, hand-washing and sanitary facilities available in and around the school compound; and a Software Component which includes health and hygiene activities aiming to promote conditions at school and practices of staff and children, that help to prevent water and sanitation related diseases.
 
The hardware component includes
 
·         Construction of toilets in all types of Government Schools i.e.ƒnPrimary, Upper Primary, Secondary and Higher Secondary. Emphasis is given on toilets for girls, along with a water storage tank and hand washing facilities.
·         Installation of hand pumps in schools for provision of drinking water, where at present there are no such sources.
·         Provision of other materials, for example buckets, mugs, soap tray, brush, drum for drinking water etc.
·         Construction of drainage system for solid and liquid waste disposal.
·         Construction of garbage pit, soakage pit, cooking storage place for food.
·         Plantations for neat and clean school compound and lighting, ventilation for clean classroom environment.
 
The software component includes
 
·         Baseline survey of the school: participatory needs assessment involving students, teachers, parents and community members.
·         Inter-sectoral coordination: pooling of resources/ideas among departments.
·         Formulation of objectives, outputs/results and an action plan.
·         School awareness/IEC: about School Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene and seeking participation.
·         Motivation of the school committee members, students and the public to improve the school environment with fencing, planting of trees and to maintain the sanitary block properly with their own contribution.
·         Organization of a campaign in the village through the school for adoption of water points, sanitary latrine, garbage pit, soakage pit, smokeless , water storage tank and other sanitary provisions in the household as a package.
·         Sensitization and Training of Engineers /Gram Panchayat/District Panchayat / RDD on SSHE and managing it and all other key district and block level functionaries
·         Training and orientation of community and parent groups such as School Management Committees, PTA leaders, PRIs and teachers to train other frontline workers /NGOs/Masons/ Motivators etc. promoting sanitation and other activities in the community, making the primary school as a focal point.
·         Formation of school health clubs to discuss, take responsibility and participate in making provision of water and sanitation facilities in the schools as well as to maintain these facilities.
·         Health and Hygiene Education Activities among school children on use of water and toilets hand washing, safe disposal of waste, use of footwear, water and food handling.
More information on School Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene Education and the Total School Sanitation is available at district and state levels from the Public Health Deptt and Education Deptt.
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