About hygiene, rural primary schools and the importance of school uniforms

Playing a Wash game. Learn about hygiene.

It’s a small primary school in a rural village, not too far away from Coimbatore city in the South of India. There are 25 students only and two classes. The first and second class sit together in one classroom and the third and fourth class. There are just two teachers, a cooking helper and a women who helps to clean. It’s a nice campus, although the need for some white-washing and some additional items is obvious.

“The hygiene program that we did in the last months was very useful to all – the students, their parents and also for teachers,” explains the headmaster. “The children have a lot of fun with the games and now their own soap boxes Nd we exercise twice a week”.

Four main hygiene roles are there: the right handwashing, toilet use, hygiene after toilet use and avoiding germs.

One of the Making More Health Fellows in our network – Thorsten Kiefer – has been working successfully with his “Wash” organization in Northern India before he came in our project area around Coimbatore in the South of India. Here he launched the Wash hygiene program for schools together with our partner NGO, the Karl Kuebel institute for development and education. A bundle of activities and games for children, parents and teachers are included in the Swach Bahrat Action kit.

Here listen to what the headmaster says about this hygiene program:

We are giving in addition two toilet buildings and repair some others and lacking tubes – because for a better hygiene also the right facilities must be there. The work is still ongoing. In a few days the toilets with a new water tank on the top will be ready:

The new MMH toilet will be ready soon

That’s a huge step for the school.

The needs for a better environment is high, the money given by the government is rather low – roughly 80 EUR per year for the school. That’s all. So, in the kitchen some essential items are missing, some vessels, some chairs. “A kitchen garden and some toys for the school break would be a luxury … – but before the walls need some white- washing. More than 20 years the walls have not be painted. School uniforms would certainly attract the students to come more regularly.

School uniforms are status symbols

When I ask the headmaster what he needs he mentions some ties and belts and chapels for the children: “Having nice uniforms means that the school is good and parents then use to support much more the school education of their children.”

Especially the poor cannot afford private schools, but they are looking also for good education and link it to the overall status of the school environment.

Thanks to the people who have worked a lot to construct these new toilet buildings – here and in two further schools!

We will share some pics when the toilets are available.

Thanks to all who helped to make the MMH toilets happen!

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