A compilation of best practices from Odisha, India.
Photo caption: Booklet cover - Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Schools
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in schools contribute positively to children's health, education and overall well-being. Children spend a significant amount of time in schools, making them the best place to learn, practice and inculcate good WASH behaviour. The benefits go beyond the classroom: school WASH contributes to the health of the future generation and thereby to the growth of the nation. As change agents, children can positively influence the behaviour of their family and community members.
On 15 July 2019, the State Government of Odisha enshrined its commitment towards WASH in schools by launching the Odisha Swachh Vidyalaya Puraskar (OSVP) or Odisha Clean School Award. This annual award recognises and motivates schools in the state to meet the WASH service level standards for schools as defined under the national Swachh Bharat Swachh Vidyalaya initiative. Some 58,000 schools in both rural and urban Odisha applied for the award. Of those that applied, 40 schools were selected for the State level award, 234 schools were selected for the District level award, and 1256 schools were selected for the Block level award, with an additional 900 schools selected as winners in the sub-categories.
IRC in collaboration with UNICEF Odisha compiled a booklet with best practices from 15 of the 40 state award-winning schools. The case studies demonstrate how WASH in schools not only retain school attendance but also increase school enrolment. They show how children can positively influence the WASH behaviour of the wider community. Further, they also demonstrate how regular operations and maintenance of WASH facilities contribute to their continued functionality.
On 16 September 2020, the booklet was launched during the webinar - Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in School and preparedness during COVID-19 in Odisha - organised by UNICEF Odisha. The webinar attracted over 1100 participants from across the country, including government officials, school administrators, civil society representatives, and other WASH in schools enthusiasts. The booklet of best practices was hailed as being a step in the right direction to be replicated by schools throughout India.
Following the launch of the booklet there was a discussion on the challenges and opportunities brought forth by COVID-19. The discussants reiterated how COVID-19 has reinforced the need for school WASH. The pandemic has, it was stated, set a huge task for schools to be prepared for prevention of any infectious disease in the future. They added that cleanliness and hygiene are the crucial weapons against the spread of such infectious diseases and schools are the perfect place to inculcate such behaviour in life skills.
View the video recording of the webinar below. The booklet "Water, sanitation and hygiene in schools : a journey towards Swachh Odisha" is available below under Resources.