General News of Wednesday, 2 April 2014
A survey conducted in public schools across the country has revealed that about 10,000 schools do not have toilet facilities.
The number is half the estimated 20,000 public schools in Ghana, apart from the thousands of privately owned schools that may not have toilet facilities.
This was made known at a dissemination workshop held on the theme: “National Minimum Standards and Implementation Models for WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) in Schools in the Country”.
The workshop was to make known to stakeholders the validated report on new minimum standards for school sanitation facilities agreed by the Ghana Education Service (GES) and the implementation models to be used for them.
The Director of the School Health Education Programme (SHEP) of the GES Mrs Kate Opoku, told the Daily Graphic after the workshop that it was to verify the state of WASH facilities in schools across the country that consultants were engaged to do a needs assessment of all public schools in the country.
“And from the results that they gave, it came out that about 10,000 schools have no WASH facilities countrywide. With those who have, the conditions were not good. For schools that don’t have any facilities, children are forced to use the bush,” she said.
National Minimum Standard
“Most of the toilet facilities do not have any hand-washing facilities. We expect that when the child enters or visits the toilet, he comes back to wash the hands before whatever he is going to do and we expect the facility to be near where the toilet is,” the SHEP Director stated.
According to the agreed minimum standards, facilities must comprise toilets, urinals, hand-washing facilities, among others.
Mrs Opoku, however, bemoaned the fact that water was one of the major problems affecting the provision of sanitary facilities in schools.
“Sometimes girls, because of the lack of these WASH facilities, will not come to school when they are in their period. They don’t have anywhere to change when they feel wet. So what do you do? You would rather prefer to stay at home.
“If for five days that child is in that condition, and the whole week a new topic is being treated in Mathematics, for example, it means she has missed that whole topic,” she lamented.
Cost of facilities
Touching on how much it would cost to construct toilet facilities for schools, Mrs Opoku said each facility, comprising separate urinals for males and females, toilets for teachers, boys and girls and a hand-washing facility, including a reservoir, would cost not less than GH¢18,000, as suggested by the consultants. She, however, said that was lower, compared with the quotation of US$18,000 given by the UNICEF WASH specialist in Ghana.
When asked why so many public schools had been built without sanitation facilities, Mrs Opoku explained that the school infrastructure, especially that which was built long ago, was normally put up by local government authorities and had no or inadequate sanitation facilities.
Speaking to the same issue with the Daily Graphic on Friday, Mr Harold Esseku, one of the consultants, put the number of schools without toilets between 9,000 and 11,000.
He said the situation had arisen because until about five years ago, there was no policy on ensuring that toilet facilities were provided when school blocks were built, the reason why those built before then did not have such facilities.
The way forward
In her closing remarks, an official of the Curriculum and Research Development Division of the GES, Mrs Cynthia Bosumtwi-Sam, who chaired the workshop, called for effective collaboration among the ministers of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Local Government and Rural Development and Education to ensure that water was available at all public schools.
She also suggested that different toilet models, such as the KVIP and others that did not require water, must be used in the absence of water, while training must be organised to achieve behavioural change.