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Swachh Bharat: Swachh Vidyalaya

A new government roadmap for WASH in Schools

The new national campaign, Swachh Bharat: Swachh Vidyalaya (SBSV), or “Clean India: Clean Schools”, was launched in September 2014, heralding a new era in the Indian government’s focus on WASH in Schools. A key feature of the campaign is to ensure that every school in India has a set of functioning and well maintained water, sanitation and hygiene facilities.

SBSV will encompass both the technical and human development components that are necessary for good WASH practices. Technical components include drinking water, handwashing, toilet and soap facilities in the school compound for use by children and teachers and the human development components are the activities that promote conditions within the school and the practices of children that help to prevent water, hygiene and sanitation-related diseases.

In order to be successfully implemented, the staff and supporters of SBSV’s WASH in Schools initiatives will need to be built: teachers, community members, School Management Committee (SMCs), NGOs, Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and education administrators.

SBSV’s goal is to make a visible impact on the health and hygiene of children through improving both their health and hygiene practices, and also those of their families and communities. Another aim is to improve WASH curriculum and teaching methods while promoting hygiene practices and community ownership of water and sanitation facilities within schools. This will improve children’s health, school enrolment, attendance and retention and paves the way for new generation of healthy children.

According to the Indian Government speaking about SBSV: “It is the role of policymakers, government representatives, citizens and parents to make sure that every child attends a school that has access to safe drinking water, proper sanitation and hygiene facilities. This is every child’s right.”

Swachh Vidyalaya: The 6 Essential Elements

Every school in the country must have a set of essential interventions that relate to both technical and human development aspects of a good WASH pogramme.

These are the 6 essential elements:

1.    Sanitation

  • Separate toilets for boys and girls, with one unit generally having one toilet (WC) plus 3 urinals. The ratio to be maintained is preferably one unit for every 40 students.
  • Menstrual hygiene management facilities including soap, adequate and private space for changing, adequate water for cloth washing and disposal facilities for menstrual waste, including an incinerator and dust bins.

2.    Daily handwashing with soap before mid-day meal

  • Sufficient group handwashing facilities allowing groups of 10-12 students to wash their hands at the same time. The handwashing station should be simple, scalable and sustainable, relying on usage of minimum water. These handwashing facilities can be developed using local materials.
  • Group handwashing with soap sessions are conducted before the mid-day meals are served, and are supervised by teachers, who emphasize good handwashing techniques.

    The handwashing sessions are used as an opportunity for delivering hygiene messages, especially the message that hands should be washed at two critical times: before eating and after using the toilet. The sessions can also be used to deliver messages on sanitation and drinking-water safety. Adequate time allocation (preferably 10-12 mins) before the mid-day meal time, to ensure that every child and teacher can wash hands with soap, conveniently. 

3.    Drinking water

Daily provision of child-friendly and sustainable safe drinking water and adequate water for handwashing. In addition water for school cleaning and also food preparation and cooking. Safe handling and storage of drinking water should be practised throughout the school.

4.    Operation and maintenance (O&M)

  • All water, sanitation and handwashing facilities need to be clean, functional and well maintained to ensure that the intended results are achieved and capital investments made in installing these systems are not lost. Annual Maintenance Contracts (AMCs) can be issued, which will include regular maintenance of facilities, regular supply of cleaning materials, consumables like soap, disinfectants, brooms, brushes, buckets etc.

    The AMC may include identification of repair tasks and arrangement for repair facilities. Alternatively some local arrangements can be made, which can include appointment of local sweepers/cleaners, appointed by the school/district, who are provided with a regular supply of consumables.

  • Regular/daily inspection of water and sanitation facilities by an appropriate group of persons as appointed by the SMC.

5.    Behaviour change activities

  • Water, sanitation and hygiene behaviour change communication activities should be part of the daily routine of all children. Hygiene messages may be integrated into the textbook curriculum or may be imparted through supplementary reading materials, activity based learning methodologies or even during the morning assembly sessions.
  • Girls must be taught menstrual hygiene management by female teachers in a sensitive and supportive manner and also take steps to encourage and support girls during menstruation so they do not miss school. This involves menstrual hygiene education sessions at school, along with steps to ensure that girls have a private place to wash and change their clothes.

    Existing facilities will be used in some cases; in other situations, a new facility will need to be constructed. Other steps that can be taken to support girls include stockpiling extra sanitary pads and clothes (such as school uniforms) for emergencies, along with enhanced training programmes for teachers.

6.    Enhanced capacities

It is essential that capacities are improved at various levels within the sector, to develop the right mix of skills, knowledge and experience to facilitate, finance, manage and monitor water, sanitation and hygiene programmes in schools effectively. For example teachers and SMCs need to understand ways of ensuring equitable use and maintenance of facilities, making sure hygiene is adequately promoted and that monitoring of these elements takes place regularly at the school level. Furthermore, new learnings need to be infused in the sector, along with newer ways of programming and implementing a water, sanitation and hygiene programme in schools.

Download the complete Swachh Bharat: Swachh Vidyalaya document 

  • Pages 1-2 and 6 talk about the benefits of water sanitation and hygiene to school children, including how WASH protects children from illness, stops girls from dropping out of school and supports school nutrition. 
  • Page 7 talks about the legislative and policy support for WASH in Schools, including Article 21-A of the Constitution, the Right to Education Act, and flagship government programmes, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV).
  • Pages 8-13 give a range of key statistics about the status of WASH in Schools, such as the availability of handwashing facilities, clean drinking water and functional and hygienic toilets.
  • Pages 19-20 give a School Maintenance Schedule for WASH outlining Daily, Weekly, Fortnightly, Monthly, Seasonal and Yearly Operation and Maintenance for facilities.
  • Page 21 Snippets on WASH from text books.
  • Information about how to bring about Behaviour Change for WASH to ensure lasting good practice, 
  • Pages 25-7: How to design a good WASH programme, including infrastructure and costs. 
  • Pages 29-33:  Swachh Vidyalaya in Action: How to engage advocate for SBSV, including Corporates. 
  • Pages 35-44. Good practices in the field: WASH best practices in schools around India.