New Delhi: “Handwashing is very important because bacteria enter mostly through our hands. That is why we must wash our hands daily,” these are the words of Mohammad Faisal, a class 4 student, who has internalised good hygiene habits. The simple act of handwashing with soap can address diseases like Diarrhoea which often result in death among children under five years of age. Dettol has been advocating this practice through its School Hygiene Education Programme, which has reached 24 million children in the past nine years. The Hygiene Curriculum has been adopted by many institutions such as Madarsa Sheikhul Alam in Lucknow.
Apart from taking classes in art, Maths, grammar, and History, among other subjects as part of the curriculum and learning from Quran, students studying at Madarsa Sheikhul Alam also attend a special class on health and hygiene. Children of different ages, from different classes, sit together and learn about the lock and key relationship between health and hygiene.
The hygiene curriculum has been integrated into the institution’s larger curriculum for more holistic learning. The hygiene books are available in multiple languages, including Urdu, in an effort to bring the conversation on hygiene closer home for different communities.
Mohammad Faisal, the class 4 student read and learnt about hygiene from the books. He says,
I taught my friends and family how to maintain cleanliness. For example, we should flush a toilet after using the washroom. If there is no flush, fill the bucket with water and pour it down. Following this, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.
Marida Khatun, Urdu Teacher, who imparts lessons on hygiene, says,
Because of regular handwashing, our school had zero Covid cases. Dettol Banega Swasth India programme is a good programme for creating awareness. This campaign must be extended to other madarsas and schools too.
Teaching simple everyday practices as part of the hygiene curriculum in schools, madarsas, gurukuls and other educational institutions has had a definite impact. 86 per cent of the children under the school hygiene programme have an improved status of handwashing now, as opposed to the earlier 11 per cent before the programme started.
Sania Jehan, a class 9 student says,
We use our hands for all our work and this gives bacteria entry points into our body. We must ensure we wash our hands before consuming food.
Mohammad Danish, a class 7 student, who also attends health and hygiene classes, says,
We were aware of cleanliness earlier too but not in this much detail. Since the start of the Dettol classes by madam, we started to learn more about cleanliness and that helped us a lot, especially during Covid times.
Part of the hygiene curriculum is the setting up of a hygiene corner in the madarsas. A hygiene corner is a designated place where all the material related to the practice of hygiene promoted by Dettol Banega Swasth India is displayed. The material includes students’ workbooks, the teacher’s manual, buckets, water mugs, towels, posters, a first-aid box, soap and more.
Alam Siddiqui, Founder Manager of Madarsa says,
The hygiene corner is immensely helpful, children are attracted to this corner and use the material provided for hygiene. This has had good results. They implement hygiene practices at their home as well.
Altering age-old practices and bringing about behavioural change needs innovative measures. And to make a huge impact it needs reinforcing a culture of hygiene amongst children. Dettol School Hygiene Education Programme has proven that not only is change possible, but it can also be sustained.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.