By: Maricar S. Gumobao, Teacher 3
SDO Laguna, Pagsanjan Sub-office
Francisco Benitez Memorial School
Do you still remember that time when your mom asks you to ‘wash’ your hands before you eat? Yes, that nostalgic time when you were young, and your parents are already instilling in you proper hygiene. Something that annoys us during those times but had contributed a lot to how we take care of our health until now.
Moving on to our school setup, the Department of Education (DepEd) is similar to our parents who would like to make every learner achieve learning and health outcomes through a comprehensive, sustainable, and scalable school-based Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene in Schools or what we know as WinS program. Under the State’s mandate to defend the right of children to dignity, assistance, and protection from conditions that would hamper their development, DepEd is focused on implementing this in our schools.
Some of the common problems that we already have in our schools is a lack of handwashing facilities – and if there is one, scarcity of water sources is bringing you another problem. Practicing this behavior of handwashing is one of the key contributors to hygiene and sanitation challenges. During the COVID-19 pandemic, until now, handwashing is highly encouraged as this is proven to get rid of the virus in our hands. This is scientifically proven and had avoided the spread of this disease by just following one-simple step and that is to wash your hands.
Based on scientific studies and practices around the world, handwashing shows that improving access to and use of water and sanitation facilities within schools and enhancing hygiene and sanitation practices can effectively prevent water and sanitation-related diseases. Thus, making our students healthier and more energetic in terms of their academic performance.
In congruence with the DepEd Order No. 10 series of 2016 entitled “Policy and Guidelines for the Comprehensive WinS Program,” a school has to satisfy the following requirements – safe drinking water, gender-segregated toilets, group handwashing facility with soap, daily group handwashing activities, and sanitary pads – to earn at least a star out of the three-star rating in its WinS implementation.
Nevertheless, not all schools yet in our country can meet the standards set by the WinS program. According to a DepEd report, only 61% of schools have available safe drinking water on school grounds, nearly two out of three schools have gender-segregated toilets, two in five schools perform supervised daily group handwashing, over half of the schools have group handwashing facilities with soap, and four out of five schools have access to sanitary pads available to students.
Correct hygiene and sanitation – are only two of a lot of practices that our learners should practice at home and school. A clean and healthy environment has been the government’s priority through the Department of Education. To develop productive citizens of our country, we need to provide a safe and healthy environment for our learners where they can excel academically, and develop to be productive citizens of the country.
Our world had already experienced a lot of challenges and struggles in the past years, and one simple way that we could note how NOT to spread the virus is by ‘handwashing. Whether at school or home, we must always practice WinS – Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene — because awareness is something, but the application of it daily is another thing.