By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
While the number of schools that are now compliant with global standards on sanitation and hygiene has increase, the Department of Education (DepEd) said there is still “more room” for improvement.
DepEd presented the gains of Philippine schools for the past two years in achieving global standards in water, sanitation and hygiene for Filipino learners at the recent 7th WASH (Water, Sanitation & Hygiene) in Schools International Learning Exchange (WinS ILE).
Education Secretary Leonor Briones, in her message, reported that out of 35,005 participating schools, around 7,000 schools nationwide —doubled from the previous year— have reached star-level status, according to the WinS monitoring results for school year 2018-2019.
“In the first two years of implementation [of the wins policy], we have already seen improvements across the country towards reaching these policy standards,” Briones said in her message, as read by Undersecretary Alain del Pascua during the opening ceremony of the five-day WinS ILE.
The recent WinS monitoring results also show steady increases in the compliance with access to safe drinking water, availability of sanitary pads, gender-segregated, functional toilets, and handwashing facility and activities – the five crucial indicators in the GIZ and UNICEF’s Three Star Approach (TSA), which was adopted in the DepEd’s WASH in Schools policy.
DepEd data showed that “almost all schools complied” with managing access to drinking water (97.2%) by either providing safe drinking water at school level (40.9%) or asking children to bring from home in case the school does not have access to safe drinking water on school ground.
Schools, DepEd noted, were also prepared to support girls during menstruation by providing sanitary pads (74.7%) in case of emergency.
However, DepEd said that only 56.8% of schools provide access to gender-segregated and functional toilets, and only half of schools has access to group handwashing facilities with water and soap available. Daily supervised group handwashing is also being practiced by 37.4% of schools.
Meanwhile, Region VI (Western Visayas) stands out as the region with the most number of schools that met national standards and has attained three-star status (5.3%).
The seventh iteration of the WinS ILE is in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, and Save the Children Philippines.
From these scaling up practices, DepEd said that it will continuously “exchange strategies” with ministers of education and delegates from 15 states in the Asia and the Pacific to further improve the implementation of WinS in the country and contribute to the attainment of Sustainable Development Goal 4 (Inclusive and Quality Education for All).