Access to safe water, functional toilets and proper hygiene practice in schools creates the safe and conducive environment for children to optimally participate and achieve the learning outcomes. Thus, the need to ensure that water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities are adequate in number and well-maintained and the necessary hygiene and cleaning supplies are available in schools.
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Creating a conducive learning environment
With clean water supply, children are protected from water-related diseases and are able to practice proper hand and oral hygiene. In addition, toilets and other facilities are properly used and easily maintained. Clean and functional toilets that have privacy, proper ventilation, and are in visible, safe and accessible location ensure that children are able to relieve themselves with comfort and dignity. Moreover, adolescent girls are able to manage their menstruation effectively when toilets have water, soap and garbage bins for sanitary pads disposal. Group handwashing facilities and soap enable children to wash their hands and brush their teeth at scheduled time of the day, and thereby creating the routine for habit formation. Individual handwashing facilities with soap at strategic places such as in or nearby toilets and eating places enable children and adults, including food handlers and teachers, to wash their hands after using the toilets and before eating or handling food.
Developing life-skills and increasing resiliency
Water, sanitation and hygiene education in schools (WinS) develop life skills and contributes to the education goal of positive behavior change for young Filipinos. Through creating a safe environment and developing positive hygiene behavior, WinS contributes to reducing the vulnerabilities of children and increasing their resilience, especially at times of disaster and emergency.
Cognizant of the above, the Department of Education (DepEd), through the Comprehensive WASH in Schools Policy (DepEd Order No. 10, s. 2016, “Policy and Guidelines for the Implementation of the Comprehensive WASH in Schools Program”) established standards for WASH services that needs to be ensured in all schools. Invoking the National WASH in Schools Policy, DepEd Order No. 32, s. 2017, “Gender-Responsive Basic Education Policy”, mandates that schools “provide women, girl-child and adolescent-friendly facilities that meet the standards for Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM)”.
WinS in Brigada Eskwela
The Comprehensive WASH in School Policy also recognizes the application of the School-Based Management (SBM) approach in improving and sustaining WASH in Schools, particularly through school planning and budgeting, partnerships and linkages. In this light; WASH in Schools strategically falls within the objectives and design of the Brigada Eskwela Program. For the purpose of the Brigada Eskwela, the National WinS Three Star Approach provides guidelines in the identification of the gaps in WASH in schools and prioritization of actions to address them.
Through the Brigada Eskwela, the following WinS activities and provisions can be mobilized:
- Provision of water supply, through connection to barangay water networks, construction of water pumping system, and/or installation of rainwater catchments;
- Construction of additional toilets, particularly gender-segregated toilets for boys and girls;
- Repair and improvement of existing toilets, including desludging, to ensure functionality, privacy, comfort and security for children, especially girls;
- Construction/improvement of individual and group handwashing facilities;
- Improving accessibility to water, toilets and handwashing facilities through provision of concrete footpaths, disability ramps and roofing;
- Provision of rest space for menstruating girls that are private, secure and comfortable;
- Improvement of drainages, cleaning of roof gutters, and elimination of stagnant water;
- Provision of hygiene supplies – soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, sanitary pads, etc. – and cleaning materials;
- Improvement of solid waste management, including the provision of garbage bins for waste segregation, compost pits and material recoveiy facilities and/or securing local garbage collection services;
- Putting up hygiene messages in strategic places (toilets and eating places) to motivate proper use of toilets and handwashing at critical times, especially after using the toilet and before eating;
- Orientation of parents and other stakeholders on WinS and engaging their support for developing proper WASH practices at home and the community; and •
- Orientation and certification of canteen operators, vendors and food handlers on proper hygiene and sanitary food preparation and handling.