Ba Special School Champions Handwashing

Teachers and children of Ba Special School take lead in making the handwashing programme in their school a daily practice.

Sheenal Sharma
Raviyawa Kulae and Reshma Vikash, teachers at the Ba Special School guide children as they wash their hands.
UNICEFPacific/2020/Sharma
14 October 2020

Hand hygiene has never been more critical, not only to prevent the spread of the current COVID-19 pandemic but also to prevent other diseases.

Now more than ever, we need to ensure that handwashing is accessible for all, and most importantly for children with special needs.

Ba Special School, which is situated on the north-western part of the island of Viti Levu, the largest island in Fiji, has made its handwashing programme an exemplary practice and one to learn from.

The teachers and children of the school are collectively putting in efforts to make the handwashing programme in their school a daily practice.

Reshma is one of those teachers.

“Our handwashing programme is included in our school timetable. Children are taken to wash their hands, first before class in the morning, before recess, when they are about to eat food, and after they have finished eating. We also have a timetable slot for handwashing, tooth brushing and face washing. And this is a daily programme in the school.”

“In our weekly school assembly, a presentation is done on hand hygiene where children learn and practice handwashing drills. We also have announcements being made three times in a day to remind children to wash their hands.”

Reshma says that with a school of 62 children, class teachers are always present to guide children and remind them to wash their hands.

“When children visit the washroom, teachers are always present to guide them to ensure they remember to wash their hands. Some children are individual learners, they see the handwashing demonstrations and follow the steps.”

 

Making handwashing facilities accessible

As much as it is important to ensure that handwashing is accessible for all – it is also important to ensure that children have the handwashing facilities available in school.  

In Ba Special School, the handwashing facilities are made to suit children with different special needs, including soap, which is available for children to use in the washrooms, hand basins and kitchen.

“We have assigned the monitoring role to the respective class teachers to ensure that children’s hygiene is well maintained and to remind children to wash their hands.”

 

Handwashing is part of our culture

Given that the handwashing programme was already in place in the school, it was easier to raise awareness among the children about the importance of handwashing as one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Handwashing, tooth brushing and face washing practices have always been part of the school culture. It has always been there.”

Reshma added that it is the responsibility of teachers to teach children to regularly wash their hands by following the handwashing steps and take the same message home to their parents and siblings.