Schools getting ready to reopen in September improving capacities for water, sanitation and hygiene
Fifteen schools identified by Institute for Public Health and State Education Inspectorate received mobile handwashing stations donated by UNICEF and
SKOPJE, 20 August 2021. In preparation for schools reopening, Mila Carovska, Minister of Education and Science, Patrizia DiGiovanni, UNICEF Representative, Erik Janowski, USAID Country Representative, Filip Temelkovski, Major of Kisela Voda and partner Macedonian Civic Education Center visited the Primary School Kliment Ohridski in Drachevo – one the fifteen schools in the country that received mobile handwashing stations to improve their capacities for water, sanitation and hygiene.
"We will start on the first of September with all schools open, but in order to maintain this situation we need maximum responsibility and to respect the plan and protocols that have been adopted by all participants in the educational process - students, teachers, parents, municipalities and so on - and of course to be responsible outside of schools." said Mila Carovska, Minister of Education and Science. “I have to thank UNICEF and USAID for supporting us as a country in the process of normalizing the education system and getting students back to school even though the pandemic isn’t over. Not only do they provide advisory support - as you know UNICEF recommends that during the pandemic schools must be the first to open and last to close because of all the consequences that closures can have on students and their development.”
The mobile handwashing stations include refillable units for water, soap and hand towels. Fifty-two stations were donated to fifteen schools by UNICEF thanks to funding from USAID. The schools were identified by the Institute for Public Health (IPH) and State Education Inspectorate (SEI) as critical in their capacities water, sanitation, and hygiene.
“UNICEF welcomes the Government's decision to reopen schools for all children in September. This is especially encouraging since North Macedonia has recorded the longest school closure for physical attendance, with the majority of students attending distance learning for a total of 54 weeks, a number significantly higher than the Europe and Central Asia region average of 25 weeks,” said Patrizia DiGiovanni, UNICEF Representative. “We recognise that decisions to reopen schools are considered in the context of the COVID19 epidemiological situation, however schools must always be the last to close and first to reopen when it is safe to do so. Reopening schools safely requires a collective effort and this project is just one effort to ensure schools remain a safe environment for learning. Schools have proven that they have the capacity to follow the COVID19 prevention protocols, now more than ever they need the resources and capacities to rebuild what has been lost in learning and mental wellbeing.”
"This pandemic has tested our personal and collective resilience, but we stand together to protect the health and safety of all, especially our children. USAID is proud to contribute to North Macedonia’s COVID-19 response. The United States has provided over $6.7 million in assistance to this country focused on immediate pandemic relief, economic and social recovery, and preparations for the roll-out of vaccinations", said Erik Janowski, USAID Country Representative.
The selection of the schools was based on findings of a self-assessment tool developed by the Institute for Public Health and the State Education Inspectorate with UNICEF support. This tool integrates assessment efforts between IPH and SEI and incorporates the World Health Organisation recommended questions for water, sanitation, and hygiene capacity assessment. The tool is available to all schools for self-assessment and available for centres for public health and education inspectors. In addition, the school management and technical were also provided with a detailed training course on water, sanitation and hygiene capacities and maintenance in schools.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.mk.