A safe environment to learn?
Despite being a middle income country, only one in three schools in Jordan has basic sanitation services, leaving many children attending schools without running water or adequate toilet facilities.
The national WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) in Schools Standards in December 2017 established the foundations to bring all schools in line with basic international standards and provide all students with the clean and hygienic environment they need to learn.
According to the Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Schools Global Baseline Report 2018, Jordan has the second lowest coverage of basic sanitation services in schools in Northern Africa and Western Asia. A massive 98% of WASH facilities in schools are in need of some form of repair, according to a 2015 nationwide assessment of 3,681 schools.
This included 38% of schools rated as having considerable defects affecting water, sanitation and hygiene environment of the school and need intervention with the rest having minor defects that should be handled at school-level.
With the influx of Syrian refugees bringing an additional 130,000 students into Ministry schools, it is not surprising that the governorates of Irbid and Mafraq had the highest number of schools requiring considerable repairs, with 299 and 300, respectively.
In terms of key WASH indicators to ensure sanitary conditions for the students, the assessment found that:
- 11% of assessed schools received water less than four times per month (8% received water once or twice a month and 3% never received water).
- 17% of the toilets surveyed didn't function properly;
- Only 39% schools had separate latrines for boys and girls.
- While an estimated 20.2% of schools had students registered with special needs, only 11% of those schools contained a universal-design sanitation facility to accommodate their needs.
Raising the standards for every child's health
UNICEF is dedicated to fulfilling every child’s right to a safe and healthy learning environment.
To ensure school children have access to proper sanitation and hygiene facilities, UNICEF has been working closely with the Ministry of Education to roll out of the WASH in School standards. This has involved connecting schools to water networks, rehabilitating or constructing new water and sanitation facilities, and promoting sustainable hygiene and healthy behaviours.
Since 2013, close to 400,000 children have benefited from the project, transforming their school environments, ensuring access for all students to facilities, improving health and reducing the incidence of water and sanitation-related diseases, and ensuring children, especially girls, don't have to miss school because of inadequate facilities.
Innovative water conservation and reuse technologies are also being piloted, a critical intervention given that Jordan is one of the most water scarce countries in the world.
Despite these efforts, major nationwide investments are required to meet the needs of all students, and Jordan’s responsibilities to the Sustainable Development Goals.
To help schools achieve the ambitious WASH in Schools standards and support those with limited resources, the Ministry of Education has developed an accompanying support system building on the global Three Star Approach. Using this approach schools can aim for and achieve a number of smaller milestones on their way to reaching the National Standards.
The first level ensures that minimal, but useable WASH facilities are available and daily group hygiene activities are practiced. The next levels bring further enhancements of infrastructure and practices for keeping facilities clean and functional and providing essential supplies depending on available resources and management capacities of schools. The approach ensures that healthy habits are taught, practiced and integrated into daily school routines.
The involvement of families in awareness increases the potential for these improved practices to transfer to homes throughout the community, creating a more sustainable impact that stretches beyond the school setting.