Education is key: promoting a culture of hygiene among children

Children and teachers support each other to create a culture of handwashing

Sheenal Sharma
Children of Lautoka Andhra Sangam School wash their hands.
UNICEFPacific/2020/Sharma
15 October 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder that in order to stop the spread of the virus, all of us have a part to play.

And what better example of children and teachers from Lautoka Andhra Sangam School, who are supporting each other to create a culture of handwashing and making it a social norm in the school environment.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, my role has been paramount since I am responsible for looking after the Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene (WASH) facilities in our school,” says Keshni, WASH Coordinator at Lautoka Andhra Sangam School.

“Handwashing is monitored by us, teachers. The teacher on duty for the week is responsible for putting bars of soap next to all of the taps. We also move around to monitor handwashing.”

Keshni Prasad, WASH Coordinator at Lautoka Andhra Sangam School monitors children as they wash their hands.
Keshni Prasad, WASH Coordinator at Lautoka Andhra Sangam School monitors children as they wash their hands.

Keshni says to help teachers, senior students have been assigned to assist in monitoring handwashing in school. “Together, with the teacher on duty, the WASH student champions ensure that all taps have soap and all classrooms have liquid soap.”

“Sometimes, I go and remind teachers that the soap has all been used at handwashing facilities so that students have access to soap to wash their hands in school,” says Maca, 12, WASH student champion.

Another WASH student champion, Ritvik, 12, says, “I have been encouraging all younger students, and even students who are my senior to make sure they are handwashing to stop the spread of diseases.”

Hand Hygiene For All

It’s #GlobalHandwashingDay! Join these children from Lautoka Andhra Sangam School in Fiji by sharing your message to help us raise awareness on the importance of proper hand hygiene. #SafeHands

Posted by UNICEF Pacific on Wednesday, October 14, 2020

 

Making handwashing facilities accessible

Access to hand hygiene in schools is essential to promoting quality education as children are able to continue learning in a safe and healthy environment.

In addition to promoting a culture of hygiene among children, Lautoka Andhra Sangam School has also ensured that the school has adequate hand hygiene facilities.

“Before, we did not have many taps. However, following the COVID-19 pandemic, we have installed about 10 additional taps in the school.”

 

Education is key

Global Handwashing Day is celebrated every October 15 to raise awareness on the importance of handwashing with soap.

This year’s Global Handwashing Day theme is Hand Hygiene for All. The theme is aligned with the Hand Hygiene for All global initiative and aims to catalyze the momentum from the current COVID-19 pandemic, which has highlighted the critical role of hand hygiene to prevent disease transmission.

This year’s theme reminds us of the immediate need for proper hand hygiene to respond and control the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the need to work towards lasting handwashing habits in the long-term.

“We have been emphasizing the importance of handwashing more than ever,” says Keshni.

“We must remember that the soap will finish, but the education we provide to children will never end.”

 

UNICEF’s WASH in Schools Programme

UNICEF, through its WASH in Schools Programme has been reaching teachers in Fiji with the training and support they need to ensure children continue learning in a clean and safe environment and most importantly, promote a culture of hand hygiene among children.