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WASH in Schools in India: A Mission to Accomplish

More than 130 Water, Sanitation and Hygiene and Educational professionals from 25 states participated in first WASH in Schools Leadership Course held in New Delhi.

NEW DELHI, India, 10 August 2013 - More than 130 Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Educational professionals from the Government of India, State Governments, Training Institutes and civil society organizations from 25 states participated from 6 to 9 August in the first WASH in Schools Leadership Course held in Delhi.

A joint initiative organized by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, the Administrative Staff College of India and UNICEF, the course aims to increase the capacity of local and national actors working in WASH in schools (WinS) interventions under the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (Total Sanitation Campaign).

With over 10 modules and through a series of lectures, case studies and group exercises, this interactive training course builds on participants’ knowledge of the WASH sector, particularly on intervention planning, implementation, and monitoring of WASH in Schools.

On their return, participants are expected to complete a Field Project that will allow them to apply first-hand, their newly acquired WinS knowledge and skills. By completing both the classroom training and the field projects, they will receive a certification by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS), the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) and UNICEF, an asset for their professional advancement and future career opportunities in the sector.

Recognising the need to fill critical gaps in WinS, hence the need for improved capacities for urgent WinS action in a time bound manner, Secretary, MDWS, Mr. Pankaj Jain, stated that "WASH in Schools should be a National Mission”.

Further, supporting the push for effective WinS implementation, the Joint Secretary for MDWS, Mr. Saraswati Prasad, also urged the Government to "ensure systems and finances for Operation and Maintenance (O&M)," as this is critical to guaranteeing that toilets, handwashing and drinking water facilities remain functional.

While stating the global drive for WASH in Schools results, Mr. Murat Sahin, Advisor, WASH in Schools, UNICEF New York, highlighted that WASH in Schools is recognised as a key contributor to the Post 2015 Development Agenda.

Mr Louis George’s Arsenault, Representative, UNICEF, acknowledged WASH in Schools as a critical component of child-friendly education, which contributes to a healthy and conducive learning environment, leading to a significant reduction in absenteeism and dropout rates, especially among girls. “It also has an impact on enhanced primary school attendance, improved health and cognitive development, increasing girls’ participation in school,” he said.

The WinS Leadership Course brought focus back to the core priorities of WASH in Schools in India. There was a broad unanimity on the direction for WinS in India towards improved WASH infrastructure that follows Child Friendly norms, including systems for operation and maintenance, improved capacities to deliver WinS and institutionalizing hand washing with soap before Mid Day Meals, across the country in order to reach 110 million children in 1.4 million schools.

The course saw enthusiastic participation and learning with rich exchange of experiences from the field, spanning different geographical and social contexts. Issues like the need to revise cost norms for school WASH facilities, have WinS monitoring systems, and new toilet designs, among others, took centre stage in the discussion and learning.



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