BY GEORGINA KEKEA
A study on Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) in Solomon Islands revealed that lack of proper WASH facilities have impacted greatly on girls. Girls are particularly vulnerable to dropping out of school partly because many are reluctant to continue their education when toilets and handwashing facilities are not private, not safe or simply not available.
When schools have proper, gender-separated facilities, an obstacle to attendance is removed. Adequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities and MHM intervention improves the quality of education experience for both female students and teachers. Where pads and education were provided, shame, lack of confidence, insecurity and difficulty in concentrating were improved by approximately 25 percent.
Though there is no specific goal, target or indicator on MHM in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), SDG 5 speaks of gender equality whilst SDG 4 is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all and SDG 6 is about ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
Based on one of the study’s recommendations, the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development (MEHRD) in partnership with UNICEF will soon launch a National Standards for WASH in Schools.
MEHRD’s Under Secretary, Ambrose Malefoasi in a statement says, WASH is schools is globally recognized as a key intervention to promote children’s right to health, education and clean environment and to influence a generational change in health promotion behavior and attitudes.
“If school have access to clean and appropriate toilets, functioning handwashing facilities with soap, sufficient and safe drinking water and have developed adequate hygiene skills, they will be healthier, perform better in school and positively influence the hygiene practices among their family members and the wider community”.
The National Standards for WASH in schools will guide infrastructure and hygiene improvements across all schools of the country.
After the launch of the WASH standards, schools will start receiving this standards to improve their overall water, sanitation and hygiene status.
The National Standards for WASH in schools will be launched on June 5, 2018.