BY LORETTA BRIGIDIA MANELE
MY government is totally committed to ensuring that every child in my country has access to basic water, toilet and hygiene facilities in schools. We realise that WASH facilities in schools are critical not only to achieve health and educational results of children.
The above statement was made by acting Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Hon Manasseh Sogavare during the launch of National Standards on WASH (Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene) in schools on June 5 at Mendana Hotel.
Speaking on the lack of appropriate and inadequate WASH facilities in schools, he said this may be the reason for the increase of dropout rates in primary schools and in the junior secondary level.
“Lack of appropriate and adequate WASH facilities in schools may also partly explain the situation of drop-out rates at primary schools [and junior secondary level], which has increased in the period 2007-2009 from 8 percent to 11 percent, and -1 to 4 percent respectively. In particular, girls show higher drop-out rates than boys at 13 percent and 8 percent respectively,” said Sogavare.
He stated that this brings us to the question of how and when we can achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the country for basic WASH services.
Henceforth, Hon Sogavare emphasised that as influencers of opinions and practices in their families and as future adults who need to learn the correct life skills for a generational change, they understand the crucial role of children.
Furthermore, he thanked the government of New Zealand and UNICEF for their support in the WASH project in 42 schools in Guadalcanal province.
“We look forward to the results of this project, so that the learnings can be taken to scale in the entire country. Providing WASH services in all schools of the country is achievable and this project can show us the way”
“I am happy to note that two main ministries – Ministry of Health and The Ministry of Education dealing with water and sanitation have converged here to align their priorities on WASH in schools,” said Sogavare.
He noted that he looks forward to more collaboration between the government, UNICEF, donors, bilateral organisations, NGOs, academia and other institutions to collaborate and address WASH on schools on the priority to achieve the SDGs on water and sanitation.