|© UNICEF United States/2011|
|Development professionals share their experiences in the WASH in Schools e-certificate course.|
NEW YORK, USA, 20 December 2011 – A global certification course on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is being conducted for the third time, teaching development professionals around the world about effectively managing and implementing WASH programmes in schools.
Through this intensive programme, participants in a variety of countries, across a variety of time zones, connect to online training sessions to analyze readings and case studies. Students come from a broad range of sectors, including education, health, communication, and government, bringing practical knowledge from their own fields to each discussion.
WASH in schools
‘WASH in Schools’ programmes ensure access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene for schoolchildren, reducing the spread of disease and increasing girls’ attendance and enrolment in school.
The WASH in Schools e-certificate programme is designed to teach development professionals – including WASH professionals, who are often engineers – about the ‘soft’-ware, or community-related, aspects of WASH in Schools. These include child-to-child and child-to-parent approaches to transforming hygiene behaviour and national-level work that helps government partners design and implement WASH programmes.
Participants undertake key readings, team assignments, and the development of original case studies. Murat Sahin, a UNICEF Wash in Schools advisor and one of the course’s organizers, says it also gives development professionals a way to share their experiences from the field.
Graduates receive a certificate from Emory University and UNICEF.
|Katherine Ondoga, 12, washes her hands at a tap outside newly built latrines at a school in Naros Village, near the town of Lodwar, in Kenya. Illustrations the walls promote healthy hygiene behaviours.|
Rolled out in November 2010, the inaugural course was completed by 42 participants, mainly from Africa and Latin America. The second course, this time geared towards Asia, awarded certificates to 50 graduates. Some 70 professionals are enrolled in the current session, which will run from December 2011 to April 2012.
Matthew Freeman, an assistant professor at Emory University’s Center for Global Safe Water and a course organizer, says the programme is an opportunity to apply evidence-based learning in the real world. Considering the vast experience and diverse backgrounds of the students, he sees it as a vital platform for cross-sectoral learning between participants from among countries.
The interactive learning experience is part of ‘Raising Clean Hands’, a global call to action aimed at bringing safe water, improved sanitation and hygiene education to schoolchildren across the globe.
Bringing lessons to practitioners on the ground
With feedback from graduates, the programme will be modified to offer additional distance-learning courses on advanced WASH in Schools topics, including a module on emergencies and a course on generating data on effectiveness and equity.
The basic course will be rolled out twice in 2012 and will be translated into additional languages. The ultimate goal is to have the WASH in Schools curricula tailored to the individual needs of countries, taught in local universities, reaching practitioners on the ground.
In a virtual ceremony on 14 December 2011 (at 11:00 pm, eastern standard time), recent graduates were joined by UNICEF staff, mentors and others to celebrate this unique learning experience – and all of them were happy to be ‘Raising Clean Hands’.