Healthy learning with Fit for School
Project/programme title: Fit for School
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Philippines, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia
Partner: Ministries of Education
Lead executing agency: SEAMEO/ SEAMEO INNOTECH
Many children in South-East Asia suffer from illnesses such as diarrhoea, worms and tooth decay caused by poor hygiene. These diseases have a negative effect on health and the wellbeing of children. School attendance suffers greatly as a result, which means that less time is spent learning. On the other hand, schools are the ideal environment for children to learn new behavioural patterns. Learning environments that promote good health equip children to develop healthy routines and, because they are healthier, to make the most of their educational opportunities.
Minimum standards for water, sanitation and hygiene in schools are being implemented sustainably in selected Asian countries to achieve a broad impact.
The Fit for School approach supports the gradual implementation by education ministries of strategies designed to improve water supplies, sanitation and hygiene in schools (WASH in Schools programme, WinS for short). It also helps to meet the 2030 Agenda sustainability goals (SDGs 4 and 6) of providing quality education and clean water and sanitation for everyone. The programme offers a set of clear models and implementation guidelines that allow the education sector to integrate simple preventive measures into everyday school life even without external funding. These include:
- daily hand-washing with soap as a group activity;
- daily tooth brushing with fluoride toothpaste as a group activity;
- regular cleaning of school toilets, the washing facilities and the school yard;
- deworming treatments every six months in schools.
With support from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, the government of the Philippines has integrated these measures into its national Essential Health Care Program (EHCP) since 2009. In 2016, this became part of a comprehensive WinS programme that has now been adopted as a model by other South-East Asian governments of how to implement their own sustainable and scalable WinS projects.
From 2011 to 2017, GIZ also helped the education authorities in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to introduce and institutionalise the EHCP in their area of responsibility. These activities were part of the Basic Education Assistance to Muslim Mindanao (BEAM ARMM) programme of the Australian Government, with additional financial support from the German Government.
Fit for School has been operating in the region since 2011 in cooperation with the SEAMEO Regional Center for Educational Innovation and Technology (SEAMEO INNOTECH). A programme evaluation conducted after a two-year phase showed an improvement both in access to soap and water and in hygiene practices at the target schools. The project has also strengthened the implementation of existing national deworming programmes, and daily brushing has helped to prevent tooth decay.
The Education Ministry in the Philippines uses the Fit for School model and an incremental strategy based on the Three Star Approach for WinS to improve the WinS situation in schools nationwide. The programme also supported an initiative to harmonise the WinS Education Management Information System indicators with the SDGs.
Apart from the Philippines, the project has also been adapted in Cambodia, Laos and Indonesia. GIZ is assisting the governments of these countries with the implementation, management and monitoring of WinS and with the roll-out of the scheme to further regions and schools.
Over 42 per cent of schools in the eight districts of Kampot province in Cambodia now have hand-washing facilities thanks to the efforts of dedicated officials at sub-national level. 70 of these 131 schools have also introduced tooth-brushing as a daily group activity. Nine non-governmental organisations in the education sector are using the strategy and the materials and group-washing facilities made available through the programme. Fit for School is now established in over 580 schools in Cambodia (as at December 2017).
The government in Laos has started to implement Fit for School nationwide. Staff in sub-national offices of the Education Ministry are currently being trained, using Ministry funds, to help schools implement the scheme successfully. As a result, the programme has been able to expand from 22 model schools to over 1,100 primary schools.
The city government of Bandung in Indonesia is also implementing the Fit for School approach. After starting with just six pilot schools, 61 primary schools (22 per cent of all primary schools) are now participating in the programme. Across Indonesia, there are 210 schools in different provinces taking part.
In Africa, Fit for School was first piloted in Tanzania, and the approach is now implemented as a component of GIZ’s ‘Promoting basic education’ programme in Guinea.