WASH in Schools makes an impact in Delhi

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Union Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan (centre), PDG Ramesh Aggarwal and NDMC Mayor Adesh Gupta watch schoolchildren perform the handwash exercise in a school.

Eyeing a drastic behavioural change among students in 11 schools across the National Capital Region, the WinS project being implemented by RC Delhi Ashoka, D 3012, got a major boost with the inauguration of a slew of facilities at the Nigam Pratibha Vidyalaya in Ashok Vihar, Phase-1, by Union Environment-cum-Science and Technology Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan.

As on September, the club has inaugurated WinS facilities in four schools — two each in Noida and Delhi — and “nearly 75 per cent of work has been completed in rest of the schools. Once thrown open, they will usher in a paradigm shift in hygiene practices by the students,” says Ajay Agarwal, Club President.

At the Nigam Pratibha Vidyalaya, a gender-segregated toilet block was inaugurated, apart from renovating the existing three blocks; providing safe drinking water through RO systems; upgrading furniture such as desks, benches; setting up four group handwashing stations; painting hygiene messages on toilet corridors and putting up safety tips, dos and don’ts for healthy living all across the classrooms as suggested by the UNICEF; and certain improvements to school buildings. “Till now we would have spent nearly ₹30 lakh at the four schools. Work is on in rest of the seven schools at Delhi, Noida and Sonipat (Haryana) through a global grant which will benefit nearly 5,000 students across 11 schools,” explains Agarwal.

With the support of RC Box Hill Central, Australia, D 9810, the club has secured a TRF grant of $108,000 for implementing the project which comes under the ‘Target Challenge Pilot’ of The Rotary Foundation.

 

A model school

Going a step further, the club has roped in the NGO World Vision India to usher in a series of behavioural changes and take up capacity-building
activities at the Nigam Pratibha ­Vidyalaya with the aim to develop this school into a model WASH institute and “thus set as an exemplary precedent in sustainable hygiene practices at the school and community-level,” says PDG Ramesh Aggarwal, Secretary, North Zone, Rotary India WinS, and member, RI WinS Committee (2016–20). A Bal Sansad (child cabinet) was also inaugurated on the occasion.

“Group handwashing shall ensure that children wash their hands in ‘groups’ just before the mid-day meals under the supervision of a teacher, as they face each other, exchange positive messages, make eye-to-eye ­contact, sing a jingle on handwashing and enjoy the process,” says Aggarwal.

As powerful agents of behavioural change, children will take the good lessons such as handwashing with soap which they have learned at school back home to teach their parents, siblings and elders, he noted.

 

Centre will back Rotary

In his address, Union Minister Dr Vardhan pointed out that government alone won’t be able to succeed in eradicating diseases and Rotary’s efforts at the school and community-level would definitely ensure better healthcare for students.

He noted that Rotary India was engaged in over 20,000 schools under WinS to “shape the future of children by not only providing toilets, drinking water and handwashing facilities but also focusing on behavioural change through communication activities and hygiene education.”

Vardhan urged the Rotary clubs in Delhi to take up at least 50 schools for WinS and assured support from the Centre and the Municipal Corporation. WASH Specialist Ram Chandra Singh from UNICEF complimented Rotary for the success of Swachh Vidyalaya programme of the Union HRD Ministry.

Thanking Rotary, school principal Vanita Bajaj said the WinS project would prove to be a “gamechanger in improving the attendance, enrolment, quality of education, reduction in dropout and curbing water-borne diseases.”

After the setting up of WinS facilities at the Purva Madhyamik Vidyalaya in Noida, there has been a spurt in the enrolment of students from 90 to 270 as the parents were attracted by the better sanitation practices at this co-ed school. The WinS inaugural was attended by Union government officials, municipal councillors, UNICEF delegates and a large number of Rotarians.

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