New Delhi: Children have a right to basic facilities such as school toilets, safe drinking water, clean surroundings and also basic knowledge about hygiene. Yet, in our country, the under-five mortality rate is highest. Every year, we lose 1.2 lakh children under the age of five to diarrhoea. Moreover, we are home to 48.2 million stunted children (which means an impaired growth and development of a child because of poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation). The main cause behind the prevalence of these diseases in India is poor sanitation and hygiene.
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) education if provided in all the schools, can be a game changer. Children are more receptive and quick to adapt and sustain changes. If they are taught the basic rules of good health and hygiene, they can become agents of change among their peers, families and communities.
On this World Health Day, NDTV visits a South Delhi Municipal Corporation primary school in New Delhi’s Raghubir Nagar, to understand how Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) education is helping in decrease the disease burden from India and how the young guns are spreading the word about Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
Speaking to NDTV, 11-year-old Kajal, said
In my hygiene class, I learnt a lesson that I was washing hands in a wrong manner all my life. The class taught me how important the role of soap is while washing hands. Whatever I have learned and whatever I am learning, on daily basis I tell it to all my friends back at home and my family.
Water, sanitation and hygiene are the simplest yet most concrete steps to prevent many diseases from spreading. These are essentially key habits that can be inculcated in children from a very young age. It helps improve cognitive function and attention, and also reduces days missed from school and increases dignity and safety.
Another student, Manika said,
Now that I have learned about hand washing, I will tell my younger brother and parents at home and also tell them to use a nail cutter instead of a knife to cut nails.
The WASH programme has been created by WaterAid India and is divided into five-module curriculum. All the classes from nursery to 5th standard follow different curriculums – from save water safe water to personal hygiene and good habits, sanitation in school, ills of open defecation, menstrual hygiene and use of toilet and community sanitation, everything is covered in the curriculum to educate children on the basic hygiene for good health.
Yogita Relan, the teacher, added,
There is a remarkable change in the behaviour of these students. They follow these hygiene habits as a ritual as a result now the attendance of the students have increased.
This one school alone has 500 girls, who today are not only living healthy but are regular to school and are making sure whatever they learn here they take it with them to their communities and family.
As part of NDTV Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign, we have also prepared Swachhta Curriculum and are working towards reaching out to more and more people.