GUWAHATI, Oct 24 - A media team recently visited three schools under the UNICEF WASH Initiative. The visit was part of the observance of the Global Handwashing Day, 2015.
The day, observed on October 15 every year, is an advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives. The trip was organised by Sanitation Scribes, supported by UNICEF Assam, in association with CEE (Centre for Environment Education), to observe the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities in the schools.
The Sanitation Scribes initiative between Shishu Sarothi and Thumbprint Foundation, supported by UNICEF Assam is a unique one that aims to bring into focus issues around WASH in Assam.
Three schools - Pub Mazirgaon LP School, Azara Keotpara LP School and Sajjanpara LP School - all under the Child Friendly School and System (CFSS) and Daily Handwashing for an Ailment Free Life (DHaAL) projects, were visited by a group of mediapersons from Guwahati, WASH specialists and CEE members.
In 2011 WASH components were added to the Pub Mazirgaon LP School. CEE is working as the implementation partner in the (CFSS) and (DHaAL) projects. Simanta Kalita, programme coordinator, CEE said, �The aim was to make the schools child-friendly with a safe environment. The focus was on WASH, availability of water and separate clean toilets for boys and girls. There was a time when students were reluctant to come to school. But now they hardly miss school.�
The �Chattra Sangha�, or the student cabinet of the school includes members from the student community to look after the availability of water, cleaning of toilets and monitoring handwashing of children, following the five steps introduced by UNICEF in a routine manner. They also try to supervise the personal hygiene of each and every student by making them put on sandals, checking their nails and teeth.
�My son has become very conscious about cleanliness and asks his grandparents to put on sandals while going to the toilet, to wash hands before eating and keep the compound clean with a proper garbage disposal system,� a woman said. The teachers and the mothers� committee play an important role in maintaining such a system.
The second school visited by the team was Azara Keotpara LP School, established in 1957. It was intervened by CFSS in 2011. The students of the school mostly belong to the fishermen community. The community has been very supportive and proactive in making the school a unique one. The effort of Kamal Goswami, an active teacher of the school, has led to interest and attention of the different communities, which are adequately used for the uplift of the school. The student cabinet keeps a strict vigilance on handwashing and cleaning of toilets. The girls� toilet is attached to the school and is very well maintained to keep it clean and odour-free. The school has a wall mount type handwashing station. The mothers� committee is happy to see their children taking responsibilities in creating and maintaining a clean environment and also for the fact that the message has been spread from the school to their houses.
The students of Sajjanpara LP School were observed singing a handwashing song while washing hands in group before the mid-day meal. The school has a traditional water filtration system. The handwashing station has been made in such a way that very less amount of water is used in the process. One student is specially appointed from the school cabinet to look after handwashing. The school follows a very eco-friendly system.
The water from the handwashing station flows to a vegetable bed, coconut shells are used as soap cases and dustbins are made of fishing nets. The parents of the students of the school are very actively associated with the school. They work in groups to clean the school compound and toilets of the school. The mothers also render their services in cooking and serving the midday meal.