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School sanitation and hygiene education (SSHE): Regional annex East Africa [Quality Assurance: Marielle Snel]

Author(s): Rukunga, Gerald  |  Mutethia, David  |  AMREF  |  Snel, Marielle

Publisher: WEDC
Place of publication: Loughborough University, UK
Year: 2006

Series: WELL Fact Sheet
Collection(s): WELL


School Hygiene and Sanitation Education is becoming an area of focus as far as promotion of hygiene and sanitation activities are concerned. The increasing attention follows the fact that substantial learning time is wasted if the rate of absenteeism from common preventable diseases such as diarrhoea is very high.

A safe environment in schools influences children's health and wellbeing. Water and sanitation facilities are increasingly recognized as fundamental for promoting appropriate hygiene behaviour and children's wellbeing. However, many schools experience unsanitary conditions that vary from inappropriate and inadequate sanitary facilities to the outright lack of latrines and safe water for drinking and support to hygiene promotion. Provision of adequate water and sanitation facilities coupled with proper hygiene in schools are essential for:

  • Enhancing effective learning
  • Attracting enrolment in schools, particularly girls
  • Sustaining a reduced burden of disease and worm infestation among pupils

The year 2015, which is a landmark for some of the key global resolutions and commitments, is fast approaching yet it remains largely uncertain whether the targets will be met. In the context of school health, by 2015 the target is to educate 80% of primary school children on hygiene, to equip all schools with facilities for sanitation and hand washing and educate all children about hygiene.

However, the sanitary conditions of schools in rural and urban areas in developing countries are often appalling, creating health hazards. Increasing the number and standard of school latrine facilities would decrease the drop out rates and other negative impacts especially for adolescent girls. Experience has shown that the mere provision of facilities does not make them sustainable or ensure the desired health impact. It is the use of the facilities and change in the related hygiene behaviours among the beneficiaries that provides health benefits.

Substantial learning time is wasted if the rate of absenteeism from school due to common preventable diseases such as diarrhoea is very high. For example, 400 million school age children are infected by intestinal worms, which sap their learning abilities.

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