UNICEF brings clean water to schools in Myanmar
KAWHMU, 11 April 2005 - Every morning, the students of Aphyauk primary school start their day with a song. But it’s not the alphabet song or a nursery rhyme. It’s a catchy tune about scrubbing well with soap and water. Lead by their teacher, Daw Khin Sein Mya, the children dance while they sing, moving their hands in small circles to demonstrate a proper scrubbing motion.
“The children gain knowledge of personal hygiene from school. They learn how to clean themselves and they also bring this knowledge to their home,” said Daw Khin Sein Mya.
Located in Kawhmu Township, southeast of Yangon, Daw Khin Sein Mya’s school is one of thousands of learning centres in the country providing cleaner classrooms for students. As part of the Child-Friendly Schools project, UNICEF installed separate toilets for boys and girls and a clean water pump for washing on the school grounds.
Now the students can put in practice what they have learned through singing.
“It is important that the children wash their hands after using the latrines. So they need to have a good water supply system in the school,” said UNICEF Assistant Project Officer, Terence Kaode, who along with his team checks the system routinely to make sure the water is free of contaminants.
An estimated 26 percent of the rural population of Myanmar does not have access to modern drinking facilities and many schools have no water facilities whatsoever. To address this need, UNICEF is supporting the installation of 700 water supply units and promoting hygiene education in schools around the country.
In Daw Khin Sein Mya’s school, the walls are decorated with instructional posters that explain how to properly wash after using the latrine. Myanmar’s rural students can now study in cleaner and healthier schools, and perhaps influence the way their entire community thinks about hygiene.
By Mario Diaz