No more mold on walls: New bathrooms for kindergartens No. 122
by ECD Programme
The brand-new toilets in kindergarten No. 122 in Bayanzurkh district of Ulaanbaatar city are sparkling clean. The bathrooms look bigger now and the sinks are more accessible for children. With over 880 pupils, the kindergarten’s bathroom facilities were in desperate need of renovations.
As part of its Early Childhood Development Programme, UNICEF Mongolia provided support to the kindergarten and renovated each of its 14 bathrooms. They were outdated and not meeting the standard of kindergarten environment approved in 2015. The old toilets were replaced with more sanitary ones and the number of washbasins increased. In a big kindergarten like this, every improvement counts.
“The kindergarten building was built in 1989 and there was no rehabilitation ever since. Now the situation has improved dramatically. The hygiene is better and the bathrooms are more comfortable to use,” says kindergarten’s doctor Odgerel Surenjav.
When the renovation work started and workers peeled off the walls and ceilings, they found a layer of mold beneath them. Quite surprisingly, the discovery made doctor Odgerel happy. “There was a funny smell in bathrooms back then and we didn’t know where it was coming from,” she says, adding that the mold could have been affecting children’s health. “I believe that now we found and got rid of it, our children will have less respiratory problems, resulting in higher attendance rate,” hopes Odgerel.
“The kindergarten building was built in 1989 and there was no rehabilitation ever since. Now the situation has improved dramatically. The hygiene is better and the bathrooms are more comfortable to use,”
The renovation took couple of weeks, during which everybody got involved – even parents were helping to clean dust. For the walls, the kindergarten purchased a high-quality paint, which did not smell bad and was safer for children.
The result pleased everybody. “I like that the bathrooms are now more accessible,” says Delgerjargal, a teacher in one of the classrooms. Since there are around 70 children in each classroom, she appreciates how efficient the new bathrooms are. “Before there were only four sinks, which were unnecessary big. Now there are six sinks in every bathroom, which means more children can wash their hands at the same time. That is very helpful for us,” adds Delgerjargal, smiling.
Parents are happy about the renovation too. “They were very impressed with the cleanliness. They also think that the bathrooms are more spacious now because we knocked down some walls,” explains doctor Odgerel.
“It looks like a completely new room,” agrees Duurenchimeg N., mother of 5-year-old Tselmuun, while looking inside one of the bathrooms. “The parents were actually planning to repair the bathrooms themselves, but it never happened. We are very grateful. The bathrooms are size appropriate, easy to use and much safer,” she adds, visibly happy.
Healthy learning environment
UNICEF’s Early Childhood Development Programme supports improved access to quality early learning opportunities for preschool children. Early age is the most critical period in human life, when the brain develops most rapidly and has a high capacity for change. For a proper development of children, access to nutritious food, high-quality health care, and good sanitation and hygiene is absolutely necessary.
Poor sanitation, water and hygiene, on the other hand, can have many serious repercussions. They have an impact on children’s health, their ability to go to kindergarten or school and to concentrate on learning. Investments in early childhood development can therefore lead to better education of children, and eventually, even higher individual earnings.
“Early childhood development is the key to a full and productive life. It is one of the most cost-efficient investments in human capital, which will have a significant impact on Mongolia’s future development. A child brain is built, not born,” says UNICEF Mongolia’s Early Childhood Development Officer Ulziisaikhan Sereeter.
“If we want to ensure that children can grow, develop and reach their full potential, we must provide them with good water and sanitation,” she adds.
At kindergarten No. 122, the teachers already know the good hygiene practices and they are now trying to disseminate them further. As doctor Odgerel explains, the kindergarten developed a systematic approach when it comes to teaching children how to wash their hands properly. “Of course, it depends on their age. When they are only two years old, we are just trying to ensure that they remember they must always wash their hands. When they get older, we teach them how to do it right. By the time they graduate, we want every child to know when and how to wash their hands properly,” says doctor Odgerel.
The kindergarten also teaches the parents. “We want them to understand how important good hygiene is. We have hung educational posters all over the building so the parents have all the information they might need,” she concludes.
UNICEF Mongolia’s goal is to ensure that education authorities in targeted areas have increased capacity to implement national norms and requirements for water in kindergartens, schools and dormitories. UNICEF is also supporting parents and teachers in improving their understanding of early childhood development and how good sanitation and nutrition are an important part of it.