New Delhi: Every morning after the prayer in school assembly, a group of children, who are called Sanitation Ministers meet to discuss how they can ensure health and hygiene in their school – Modern English Primary School, Manduadih in Varanasi. These meetings are held as a part of Hygiene Parliament, as a part of Dettol’s Hygiene Education Programme. Through these meetings important things are discussed like how together they can ensure their school premise is clean, their peers are following good hygienic practices like handwashing after using toilets, before and after the mid-day meals and every student is well-dressed.
Speaking to team Banega Swasth India, 10-year-old Janhavi Patel, who is the sanitation minister in her school, said,
Being a Sanitation Minister of my school, I ensure the following on a day-to-day basis – after prayer, if the school premise is clean, educate my friends about maintaining a clean and hygienic decorum in the school and making sure they are following handwashing rules on a regular basis.
Janhvi, the class 4 student is also one of the 12 winners of India’s first Hygiene Olympiad, organised by the Banega Swasth India programme. The Olympiad is built on the fundamental belief that good hygiene lays the foundation of good health. The Hygiene Olympiad aims to reach 24 million children, motivating them to enhance their reasoning, analytical and problem-solving skills in the context of hygiene, making every day hygiene practices their second nature.
Anshika Pandey, who is the Prime Minister in Modern English Primary School, adds,
Being in the position of a Prime Minister in my school, my responsibilities are making sure my school is clean and hygienic. All the Sanitation Ministers are doing their respective jobs and ensuring the basics of hygiene discipline is maintained in our school.
As part of the Parliament, the children have assumed certain leadership roles, taking responsibility for ensuring that everyone maintains good hygiene in the school’s premises.
The benefits of the initiative are not confined to the school campus. A teacher from the school, told team Banega Swasth India,
What’s motivating about the children Parliament is that these young leaders are not only helping institutionalise the change in school but also in their respective communities.
Another teacher and the school Hygiene Programme coordinator added,
Dettol School Hygiene Curriculum is helping in addressing hygiene gaps that are imperative in India’s journey to better health. The curriculum is helping build the real changemakers – in their schools, families and communities. As a part of the programme, Hygiene Parliament is teaching children an invaluable, and perhaps even lifesaving lesson – it is teaching these young minds how to keep their surroundings clean, the importance of washing hands and many other clean habits, which will help improve their overall quality of life.
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.