Hygiene, Sanitation Priorities for Education Ministry

AT LEAST 100 principals and teachers in the Kunene Region received training on the Ministry of Education’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programme last week at a workshop help in Opuwo.

The last group of 40 participants completed their two-day training on Friday.

The programme is funded by the Millennium Challenge Account Namibia (MCA-N), and is coordinated by the Society for Family Health (SFH).

It is aimed at promoting hygiene in schools, and is especially relevant for the Kunene, Omusati, Oshana and Ohangwena regions which have been hit by cholera outbreaks in recent years.

According to a report by the Ministry of Health and Social Services, 18 people had died of cholera by February this year from 554 cases reported in the four regions.

Laina Amutenya, a WASH facilitator and education officer in the Ministry of Education, said on Tuesday it is important for the ministry to train principals and teachers as cholera is spread through poor sanitation and hygiene, as well as drinking contaminated water.

The training was also aimed at supporting and upgrading the ministry’s existing hygiene education programmes in schools.

It is hoped that it will maintain and improve health learning outcomes among pupils from Grades 1 to 10 increase access to adequate hygiene information, knowledge and skills and support and empower principals and teachers in the implementation of WASH in schools.

Okaoko-Otavi Combined School principal Paulus Karutjaiva said the workshop was very useful and expressed optimism that a few changes would result from the workshop, such as having the ventilated pit latrines at some schools converted to flush toilets.

Karutjaiva said most latrines are not being used because of the way they are structured, and pungent smell they emit.

“What created the fear of using the pit latrines at my school is an incident in which a goat fell into a latrine. Since then it has been very difficult to convince the pupils to use them,” he stated.

Karutjaiva believes the latrines should be located far from the dormitories to promote better hygiene, as opposed to the current situation where they are as close as five metres from the dormitories.

Omuhonga Primary School principal Kavano Kakuva said the workshop was an eye-opener, as pupils do not want to use the pit latrines at the school, and said many are just taking a cue from teachers who are reluctant to use them.

Kakuva further said pupils were not being encouraged to use toilets and do not know the importance of these facilities.

He however expressed hope that once they are informed and use of the toilets is enforced, they will start using the facilities instead of walking up to 300 metres into the bushes when nature calls.

Rosina Tjizu, a facilitator at the workshop, said schools in Kunene face a lot of challenges in implementing the WASH programme. These range from a lack of running water to broken toilets.

Workshop participants are expected to train other staff members and pupils on WASH programmes and schools will be monitored to see how they implement the programme.


Source : The Namibian