School children in Cameroon quizzed on international handwashing day
Yaounde, Cameroon, 19 October 2009 - A group of 250 Cameroonian school children took part in a special hygiene and sanitation quiz to mark the second International handwashing day.
Pupils, aged between 8 and 13, from 6 primary schools in eastern Cameroon participated in the event held in Mandjou, Bertoua.
Students were given 20 questions ranging from, where can one get safe drinking water from to what happens when someone drinks dirty water.
"The quiz was specially designed to engage children and educate them on basic hygiene and sanitation practices. We hope to build on the success of this event and implement similar hygiene activities that can be sustained throughout the year in schools," Dr Vijitha Eyango, Chief of Education, UNICEF Cameroon said.
The three top scoring schools were rewarded during an official ceremony presided by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Basic education, Mr. Rene Meka Olinga.
"Children are fragile, he said. They are the most vulnerable section of the population. We need to teach them good hygiene in life. One of the best practices is to teach them how to wash their hands properly," In Cameroon, the simple act of handwashing can be a life-saver.
Diarrheal diseases cause 17 per cent of all deaths of children under the age of five here.
Worldwide, diarrhea kills an estimated 1.5 million children under five each year – more than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.
It is one of the most affordable and effective interventions to prevent needless deaths of young children.
Hygiene and sanitation are now being taught in all of Cameroon’s schools as part of the national curriculum.
But proper washing facilities are still badly needed in many educational institutions.
Less than 40 per cent of the country’s 15,000 primary schools have access to potable water and just over half have latrines.