BY LORETTA BRIGIDIA MANELE
IN recognition of the importance of water and sanitation, WASH in schools is implicitly and explicitly captured in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The terms “universal” and “for all” in Targets 6.1 and 6.2 implicitly highlight the need for expanding WASH services to schools.
The above statement was made by acting Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare who was speaking at the launch of the National Standards on WASH (Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene) in schools at Mendana Hotel yesterday.
Initially, he said that the launching occasion is a major milestone in the journey of WASH in schools.
Moreover, Hon Sogavare stated that drinking water, sanitation and hygiene goes beyond the household thus is crucial to the health and education of children.
“Children spend a significant portion of their day at school where WASH services can improve educational opportunities and decrease the potential for disease transmission between students,” he said.
The Finance Minister voiced that the sustainable development goals (SDGs) call for special attention to the needs of girls as well as those in vulnerable situations.
He added that it contributes to a better learning environment which leads to a significant reduction in absenteeism and dropout rates, especially among girls.
Hon Sogavare proceeded to stress that research carried out by UNICEF and other organisations worldwide have proven that WASH in schools is critical for health and educational outcomes.
“Handwashing is critical at times before eating and after using the toilet ‐ can reduce diarrhea rates by almost 40 percent”, he said.
Hon Sogavare further emphasised on the how WASH can induce positive impact among children who can later help their communities in the long run.
“The positive outcomes in education are also coupled with children becoming young advocates of sanitation and hygiene.”
“These empowered children carry messages learnt in schools back to their families and communities, thereby increasing their awareness which results in long-term health and economic benefits for the community,” he said.