Children’s hygiene behavior in pre-school institutions satisfactory while infrastructure needs improvement, UNICEF survey says
The objective of the Survey was to assess the situation in Georgian pre-schools in terms of water, sanitation and hygiene
TBILISI, Georgia, 25 April 2012 - The results of the National Survey on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Preschools were presented at the meeting of the Parliamentary Early Childhood Development Alliance which was attended by Mr. Giorgi Tsereteli, Parliament Vice-Speaker, Mr. Otar Toidze, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Healthcare and Social Issues, Ms Nada Marasovic, UNICEF’s Deputy Representative and the representatives of the Early Childhood Development Alliance, the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs, the Kindergarten Union, Tbilisi Kindergarten Agency and NCDC.
As regards the hygiene behavior the Survey has revealed positive results. In particular, the children wash hands before and after the meals, after a walk in the yard and any time when their hands get dirty.
On the other hand, in Georgia 56 per cent of the kindergartens are supplied with piped water within the building, while the piped water is supplied in only 34 per cent of rural kindergartens. In the rest of the cases the water pipes reach only the yards or water from protected wells or safe springs is used. In 3 per cent of the kindergartens there is no safe water. In this regard the situation is particularly alarming in Samegrelo-Zemo-Svaneti, Guria and Shida Kartli regions.
In 97 per cent of the pre-schools in urban areas the sanitary facilities are within the premises whereas this figure for the rural areas is 61.5 per cent. This means that in 35 per cent of rural pre-schools the children use toilets which are mainly located 15 meters away from the premises. Across the regions this problem looks worst in Kakheti (45 per cent), Racha-Lechkhumi (61 per cent) and Mtskheta-Mtinaeti (39 per cent).
At the same time the Survey has revealed that throughout the country the care provider to child ratio is 22 children per care provider which is in compliance with the Georgian norms (1:25). The number of groups is three times more in urban areas that in rural ones. But the groups in villages are more overcrowded and there are children of different ages in each group which does not comply with child development international standards.
The National Survey on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Preschools was commissioned by UNICEF in December 2011. Out of 1,277 pre-schools of Georgia 554 kindergartens (520 public, 34- private) participated in the survey through stratified random selection.
Pre-school services are a critical investment in the long-term development of Georgia. Unleashing the cognitive development potential of children early on in the life cycle is key to maximizing the development opportunities for every child. International research has found that well-organized pre-school education results in long-term improvements in school success for children, including higher grades; lower rates of repeaters; and higher educational attainment, including increased levels of university attendance. But the positive impact of pre-school education goes far beyond school performance. Economic calculations have indicated that it is one of the best investments a country can make and has one of the highest economic returns to society. International research, mainly from the US and Europe, shows that pre-school education will result in reduced unemployment; reduced dependency on state social services; reduced delinquency; improved health outcomes; increased incomes and consequently increased tax revenues.
The comprehensive review of pre-school facilities revealed that more than 80 per cent of pre-schools required significant rehabilitation, with as many as 24 per cent in urgent need of repair, lacking essentials such as heating, roofing and basic educational materials.