Confronting Hygiene Issues: Interrogating School Sanitation and Hygiene Education in Rural Bundelkhand
School is important for cognitive, creative and social development of children. So are the School Sanitation and Hygiene Education, necessary for the safe, secure and healthy environment for children to learn better and face the challenges of future life. Sanitation is one of the basic determinants of quality of life and human development index. Good sanitary practices go a long way in helping to prevent diseases. Hand washing and oral hygiene are the basic steps to maintaining good health. The present study is a school based survey undertaken among children in a state government Primary school in three villages of Sagar district with the objectives of finding out the prevalent status of personal hygiene in the study population and school’s role in promoting these practices among the students. The total sample was 100 students. The study was conducted using interview schedule and questionnaire from school authorities and parents of students and informal interaction with the school students. Most of the junior children carried their own water bottles to the school, while this practice decreased as they grew older and senior. Almost all the children adhered to the good habit of washing their hands after using the toilet, always, or at least most of the times, but the practice of using soap was variable. The present study revealed a generally good standard of hygiene amongst the study population. However, steps are required to be taken to improve the status of personal hygiene of all the school children, who are found lacking in this aspect, through various coordinated primordial as well as primary preventive measures like imparting health education.
Keywords: Hand washing, Sanitation, School children, Toilet, Urban, Water
School sanitation and hygiene depend on a process of capacity enhancement of teachers, community members, SMCs, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and education administrators. Water, sanitation and hygiene in school aims to make a visible impact on the health and hygiene of children through improvement in their health and hygiene practices, and those of their families and the communities. It also aims to improve the curriculum and teaching methods while promoting hygiene practices and community ownership of water and sanitation facilities within schools. It improves children’s health, school enrolment, attendance and retention and paves the way for new generation of healthy children. It is the role of policymakers, government representatives, citizens and parents to make sure that every child attends a school that has access to safe drinking water, proper sanitation and hygiene facilities. This is every child’s right.
India has one of the largest numbers of school going children, especially in rural areas. In fact, the primary education system in India is one of the largest in the world with over six hundred thirty thousand (630,000) primary and upper rural primary schools, over 3 million teachers, There is high level of diversity especially in the case of enrollment, for instance in some states the enrolment of children is around 100%, and overall literacy ranges above 80%. In other states, the primary enrolment of children is around 60% and literacy overall is less than 40%. The consequences of the given situation are not far to see. Diarrhea takes a heavy toll. Typhoid, dysentery, gastroenteritis, hepatitis A, intestinal worms and malaria continue to kill, debilitate and contribute to the high rates of malnutrition among young children in the country. While acute malnutrition has diminished, 47 percent under-5 children are under-weight. The child mortality rate stands at a high of 95 in the under-5 age group. Only 7 out of 10 children aged 6-14 years attend primary school. There is a high dropout rate, especially among girls. Only 42 percent girls and 48 percent boys reach class eight (Indian Child, Ministry of Human Resource Development, 2002). Therefore, a coordinated and regular activities at school are needed pertaining to health and hygiene specially health check up and de-worming for better and healthy environment.
As per the Census of India 2011 out of around 247,000,000 households, only 44% have improved sanitation1, 2.9% households have unimproved sanitation, and alarming 53.1% of the households have no sanitation facilities at all (MHA 2011a). Only a single-digit percentage of the Indians without any sanitation are using public latrines. Consequently about 600 million people in India have to practice open defecation (WHO and UNICEF 2013). The ratio ‘people practicing open defecation’ to ‘total number of population in India’ decreased from 63% in 2000 to 50% in 2011 (WHO and UNICEF 2013), however it is still a very alarming state. Most of the people without any access to improved sanitation (about 76% (WHO and UNICEF 2013)) are living in rural areas. According to the Indian Constitution, sanitation is a state-level responsibility. Therefore it is the State Government’s task to plan, finance and implement programs for ‘water’ and ‘sanitation’ (wsp India 2011, page 21). In the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments (1991, 1992) it was decided, that sanitation should be delegated to the rural self-governments (Panchayati Raj Institutions) and Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), respectively.
Objectives of Study
In Madhya Pradesh, 87% of rural population lack access to safe sanitation, which reflects severely off track progress towards the sanitation MDG Target (Census 2011) It is important to know about what kind of WASH facilities they are availing is either less studied or unknown to us. So, this study is conducted with objective to find out current status of sanitation & hygiene education to the school going children and different hygiene and sanitation facilities & condition in selected schools of Hanauta Panchayat which comes under Jaisinagar block, Sagar district in Madhya Pradesh. The specific objectives of study were:
Many basic schools in deprived communities in rural India are challenged with issues of poor sanitation and hygiene because many of them are without toilet and waste disposal facilities. This is a true reflection of what pertains in the communities where people defecate openly thereby polluting the environment; thus, creating unsafe and disease –prone locale. Hardly will one come across a dustbin let alone a hand washing facility in these basic schools. Few schools with toilet facilities cannot also maintain them due to their deplorable state, owing to over usage by the members of the communities. Sagar district is one of the deprived districts in the central region of India or Bundelkhand, which has been a focal point for various environmental imbalances resulting in failed crops leading to a setback for rural economy. Unlike any other part of rural India poor sanitation and hygiene issues can be identified here too. Many schools in the rural area of district are without toilet facilities. For instance in Lakhni Village which is one of the village in the study , there were only two toilets and two urinal facilities serving two cluster of schools with a population of over two hundred 60 pupils. And because teachers also use the same facilities, one is often reserved for them leaving only one to be shared by the pupils. These poor sanitation and hygiene conditions caught the attention of the researcher during school visits they conducted in the villages. Only formal fulfillments of Swachh Bharat Mission can be seen as some newly constructed toilet were identified and some were under construction.
If we look into the issues confronting government schools in India .There are following problems:
Area of Study
The present study is based on an intensive fieldwork conducted in three villages Salaiya Gazi, Lakhni and Hanauta of Hanauta Panchayat of Sagar district, Madhya Pradesh , during the months of September 2016 to January 2017. Before the commencement of fieldwork, a pilot study was conducted during the month of August 2016. Based on that pilot study, Hanauta Panchayat of Sagar district was selected for final study. Purposive sampling method was used while selecting the study area.
Using purposive random sampling method three schools were selected for final study. Number of enrolled students, caste diversification were considered. The sample for the study comprises 100 respondents made up of 50 boys and 50 girls, who were randomly selected from six schools in the villages. The schools were purposively selected because they were those which had sanitation challenges.
Methodology/Sources of Data Collection
The Methodology for study includes survey of selected schools three villages Salaiya Gazi, Lakhni and Hanauta of Hanauta Panchayat of Sagar district, Madhya Pradesh , during the months of September 2016 to January 2017. Participation of students of the schools was completely voluntary. They provided oral consent prior to participating and they actively participated in study. This study tried to provide current status of sanitation & hygiene in schools and about sanitation and hygiene education. There were questions regarding sanitation & hygiene in schools. In addition to survey, following steps were taken for completion of study:
Findings from the study have been given below:
Conclusions and Recommendations
This study was conducted to examine the impact of school sanitation and hygiene education on basic school pupils in the three villages Salaiya Gazi, Lakhni and Hanauta of Hanauta Panchayat of Sagar district, Madhya Pradesh. It was in an attempt to find out how students practice sanitation and what is the level of sanitation and hygiene education in these schools. According to WHO (2000), a health promoting school is “one that is constantly strengthening its capacity as a healthy setting for living, learning and working”. Improving the health of school children is thus a significant factor for achieving educational outcome. Though the results of this study could not be generalized, it was possible to draw the conclusion that in the selected schools studied in the Hanauta Panchayat, School Sanitation and Hygiene Education did not have any significant impact on the students in the area since most of the pupils could not practice proper sanitation due to lack of appropriate sanitation facilities. If such conditions continue to prevail, the provision of total and holistic hygiene education for pupils in the study area and in bundelkhand as a whole, will not achieve the desired impact. This conclusion is particularly true for schools in rural and deprived school where provision of basic amenities are usually lacking. This could be a possible reason why many incurable illness or diseases prevail and even take alarming turns in some rural communities. Equally important is the fact that continuing general decline in school sanitation and hygiene education could results in poor school attendance and possible drop-out rate among female pupils. This is because most female students have to usually stay out of school for between 4 to 7 days each month during their menstruation due to unhygienic or lack of gender friendly toilet facilities although these girls were not a part of study but it was worth mentioning as it gave an idea about sanitation and hygiene education in the area of the study . This situation puts the girl-child at a disadvantage position academically as she has to do extra work to catch up with her peers due to lost contact hours she experienced due to their natural disposition of being females. Many girls who are not able to manage this extra burden of learning harder and spending more time with their books in order to catch up with peers, do not often do well in school and even drop out of school. Eventually, pupils are unable to acquire needed education which hampers the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals as well.
In conclusion, school-based hygiene education is vital in order to decrease the rates of transmissible diseases as well as school drop outs. During Interaction & survey, it was found that students are more receptive to learning and are very likely to adopt healthy behaviors at a younger age. They can also be agents of change by spreading what they have learned in school to their family and community members. In future, our study should assess the attitudes that students have towards sanitation & hygiene.
The study also provided some recommendations:
Research Scholar, Dept. of Sociology and Social Work, Dr. Harisingh Gour Vishwavidyalay, Sagar. M.P.
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