Some countries have reported that learners bring water to schools with them because there’s no water at school. In South Africa, young learners fall into pit holes because of poor sanitation infrastructures. Many young girls are afraid to go to school, let alone using school toilets because of hygiene issues and infrastructures that don’t support their female needs.
There are several key aspects that the joint report by WHO and UNICEF point out.
The first one is that in 2016, 69% of schools had an improved source of drinking water with water available and were classified as providing a basic drinking water service. However, 19% of schools worldwide had no water service, meaning they relied on unimproved sources. Nearly 570 million children worldwide lacked a basic service and had either limited or no drinking water service at their school.
The second one is sanitation. Again in 2016, 66% of schools had improved single-sex sanitation facilities usable. 23% of schools worldwide relied on unimproved facilities, such as pit latrines without a slab or platform, hanging latrines or bucket latrines. Some had no sanitation facility at all. It was estimated that over 620 million children lacked a basic sanitation service.
Hygiene, one of the most important aspects in schools, especially within young learners is the third key aspect. In 2016 alone, 53% of schools worldwide had hand washing facilities with soap and water available. Just 36% of schools didn’t have hand washing services. The estimation of children who lacked a basic service in this regard was put at over 850 million.
Despite the hurdles, globally, we’ve made some progress in putting learner’s health at the forefront.
Learners have to feel safe when they are at school, they also have to be in a healthy environment to avoid spreading unnecessary diseases.
Mduduzi Mbiza is a writer, content strategist, researcher, consultant, speaker and author of the book, ‘Human Education: The Voyage of Discovery’. He has contributed his articles on education to Daily Maverick, The South African, Voice360 and EduOne.