School Sanitation and Hygiene Education is globally recognised as a key intervention to promote children’s right to health and clean environment and to influence a generational change in health promotion behaviour and attitudes. It is now known that not only the quality of teaching but also the environment, especially the availability of safe drinking water and sanitation together with good hygiene practices, influence learning.
Mandhani Family have identified school sanitation as a key area of collaboration, recognising that improved hygiene practices and a clean school environment are contributory factors to ensuring that children can enjoy an acceptable standard of health. The need for this is highlighted by the deprivation in primary schools which lack safe drinking water and toilet facilities. Around 50 percent of schools still do not have safe drinking water on the school premises. Only about 15 percent have any kind of toilet or urinal. Separate facilities for girls are even less well provided. Where they do exist they are so poorly maintained or so few in number, that most children do not use them. Instead they find a place to relieve themselves in some corner of the school compound or behind the school in some vacant plot. Growing girls have to endure this hardship, and this often results in them dropping out of school or absenting themselves after recess when they go home and do not return to school. This is done through activity based and ‘joyful’ learning, and a renewed teaching–learning environment involving teachers, parents, communities and children in a partnership that seeks to impart quality in learning to create lasting change.
To demonstrate this strategy, a joint initiative of G L Mandhani Trust along with Mr. Bijay Mandhani and various other local organization and NGO’s of India has been implemented beginning in various states of India. The project aims to promote sanitation and hygiene in and through primary schools to bring about behavioural change that will have a lasting impact. It also seeks to enable children (both girls and boys) to realise their right to basic education and the right to a healthy and safe learning environment.