Children of Rajasthan making a change
98 per cent of the schools in Rajasthan have clean drinking water and separate toilets for girls and boys. However, usage and maintenance of the facilities is lacking – only 72 per cent of all of the toilets are in working condition, while only 65 per cent of girls’ toilets are in working condition. Building toilets is not enough – there must also be sufficient skill and funding to maintain them, and the importance of using soap must be understood.
In the picture, Renuka helps little Angeli to wash her hands before the midday meal in Kalasuwa Fala Primary School. Renuka is the water minister of the child cabinet.
The WASH project in Rajasthan, India encompasses 750 schools, 93,000 pupils and – via the children – 40,000 households in the tribal areas of Udaipur and Dungarpur. In these schools, UNICEF has worked with partners to disseminate information about hygiene, provide instruction on building and maintaining hand-washing stations, toilets and distribution points for drinking water in schools, and offered to share its expertise with village communities.
The project in Rajasthan began in 2014. The original goal was to expand the project to cover 300 schools in the area. In June 2015, the scope of the project had been expanded to encompass 750 schools when the project was granted additional resources by the state.
Schools on the programme are very strong in WASH practices, and there is an active Child Cabinet taking responsibility for hand washing with soap, clean toilets and midday meal activities. The teachers of the schools are also trained in WASH-related issues.
This is the child cabinet of Kalasuwa Fala Primary School, Udaipur. In this school, the cabinet members are from the 4th and 5th grade. From left to right: Arvind (education minister), Rahul (sports), Jagdish (health), Vinod (deputy prime minister), Kareena (cultural activities), Usha (hygiene minister), Renuka (water minister), Heena (prime minister), Mayla (deputy prime minister) and Riel (garden minister).
Safe drinking water is an essential part of WASH in schools. Hygiene awareness and project goals are also discussed at parents’ committees, which are highly active in the area. In tribal areas, schools are a focal point of the community and they are a good way to maintain dialogue between officials and local communities.
Hetal (11 years) is drinking a glass of water at Goth Mahudi Upper Primary School, Dungarpur. Hetal is in the 5th grade and she is the minister for cultural activities in the Child Cabinet. Her favourite subject at school is Hindi and she would like to become a teacher. So far, only 9 out of 160 households in Hetal´s home village have a toilet at home.
Anita, Naina, Sonal, Neha, Shivadeeya and Aasha from Bhuwali Upper Primary School, Dungarpur. The girls can really tell the difference now that the school enables better hygiene. It is especially important for teenage girls, who tend to drop out of schools that do not have proper WASH facilities.