At the Baliapur primary school, 530 students share a single pit latrine. The toilet is old that it can no longer be cleaned easily; the smell is unbearable and permeates across the school yard. Dr. Ataur Rahman of Save the Children’s School Health and Nutrition Program in Bangladesh explains “the latrine is so dirty that children and teachers rarely use it. Instead, they leave school to use toilets at home, missing important time in the classroom. And, if children do use the latrine, it is difficult to wash their hands after as the hand pump is located at a distance.” It was here that Save the Children’s Global Giving campaign for water and sanitation began with a video between children in Baliapur, Bangladesh, and children in Arlington, Virginia. The schools are now corresponding.
Last week, Dr. Ataur and others from Save the Children’s School Health and Nutrition team visited a school about one hour from Baliapur- Nikrail Primary School. The purpose of their visit was to orient teachers, school management committee members, parents and others to the new School Health and Nutrition Program which would bring hygiene education, health services i.e deworming, vitamin A & iron supplementation, vision screening, first aid and other essential services to the school.
“Teachers, parents and school administrators were very excited about the new program,” says Dr. Ataur. “We know from experience that increasing knowledge and awareness goes a long way in preventing the illnesses which make it difficult for children to attend school and to learn. But infrastructure is also critical- it is the hope of parents in Nikrail, and hundreds of other schools like it, that we will mobilize the resources to ensure every school child has access to a clean toilet and safe water.”
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