Why Teach Them Young project
While working with the children in government schools, Door Step School identified the need to focus on sanitation and eating habits of the children, as a part of their overall development. It was observed that students of government schools come from similar social and financial background, with similar habits (or lack of habits) about health and hygiene, cleanliness, and nutrition. It is also seen that if proper sanitation and eating habits are not developed at the right age, the children grow up unaware and unconcerned about these important parts of life. Hence Door Step School decided to focus on creating awareness and providing appropriate training to the children in government schools, at the right age.
Components of the Teach Them Young project
There are two levels of implementing this programme –
1. Ensuring availability and usability of infrastructural facilities at schools –
- Availability of toilets for boys and girls;
- Availability of water in toilets;
- Cleanliness of toilets;
- Availability of pure drinking water;
- Sufficient access to water – number of water taps, height of the basins, etc.;
- Separate and clean area for eating;
- Safe and clean playground for children;
- Boundary walls and entry gate for safety of children.
2. Teaching sanitation and eating habits to children and following up throughout year –
- Conducting training sessions for students to teach –
- Using ample water after using toilet;
- Washing hands after using toilet and before eating;
- No spilling or throwing away food given as mid-day meal;
- Eating in a clean and dust-free area;
- Closing the water taps properly after use to save water; etc.
- Displaying boards to identify separate toilets, drinking water, eating area, etc.;
- Displaying charts showing good sanitation and eating habits, related pictures, scientific information, etc.;
- Forming students’ groups to monitor maintenance and proper use of sanitation facilities at schools;
- Involving teachers, parents, and School Management Committee (SMC) members in implementation of this programme.
About current status of Schools
As a first step to implement this programme, Door Step School conducts survey of schools to identify need of infrastructural facilities such as toilets, water supply, pipelines, etc. DSS staff visits the schools, reviews the infrastructure, discusses the sanitation needs with the Principal and teachers, and prepares a primary need analysis report. Common issues found in the survey are –
- Separate toilets not available for boys and girls;
- Toilets in the schools not maintained, doors missing, unclean condition;
- Water shortage in many schools;
- Very few number of water taps in proportion with number of children;
- Leaking water tanks, Tank lids missing;
- Drinking water filtration system missing or not maintained;
- No separate eating area, Children eating in open;
- Playgrounds not in maintained condition;
- Boundary walls and gates are missing or not maintained.
These issues, along with actual photographs of schools, are discussed with concerned authorities (Municipal Corporation, Zilla Parishad, or private management body). Pune Municipal Commissioner and ward offices under him have offered to take care of all reported construction/repair requirements in schools owned and run by Pune Municipal Corporation.
Similar issues are observed at Zilla Parishad schools, and schools owned by private management which are partially aided by the government. The Private Aided schools receive financial aid from Government in the form of salaries of teaching staff. Everyday functioning of the school, such as building infrastructural facilities, classrooms, toilets, etc., ensuring water supply, maintaining cleanliness, etc., is managed by the board of trustees and staff appointed by them. Funds required for these activities are arranged through private donations and fees. Considering the financial background of communities whose children attend these schools, it is difficult for the management to raise funds through parents’ contribution. Hence, the management is often unable to provide and maintain basic infrastructural facilities.
The Zilla Parishad schools are situated in the villages on outskirts of the city. These schools receive limited funds from the government and depend more on the contribution by local citizens. However, with the changing scenario in villages attached to urban areas, the schools have least enrolment of children from the local families. Most of the children enrolled in ZP schools are from migrant communities and economically weaker sections of the village. This makes it difficult for the schools to arrange local funds for construction and/or maintenance of infrastructural facilities.
The project Teach Them Young is carried out in two phases –
- Construction / Repair / Maintenance of Sanitation Facilities at Private Schools (One-time Activity) – DSS helps private / ZP school management in planning and estimating the construction and/or repair work, as well as helps in getting the necessary funds.
- Monitoring regular use and condition of sanitation facilities in Government and private schools, throughout the year (Ongoing Activity) – Building proper sanitation and eating habits among children; Creating awareness about personal hygiene and good habits among children and parents; Coordinating with Principal, teachers, and SMC members of the schools to ensure proper use of the facilities throughout the year; Reporting needs of maintenance, repairs, and installations of sanitation facilities during the year.
Examples of Existing Project Activities
1. Construction / repair of sanitation facilities in some private and Zilla Parishad schools in Pune.
2. Monitoring of Mid-day Meal activity in the schools.