The Northern Regional Coordinator for the School Health Education Programme (SHEP), Madam Bernedette Kafari, has appealed to government to provide financial support to enable effective monitoring of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programme in the region.
She explained that her office is unable to travel around to the various districts and schools to monitor the implementation of the programme and give technical support to the teachers to continue enforcement of the programme due to lack of funds.
Madam Bernedette added that her outfit is not able to scale up the programme into many schools and train more teachers to adopt the policy and encourage the school children and the communities at large to practice the WASH initiative.
Speaking to THE CUSTODIAN in an exclusive interview, Madam Bernedette lamented that most of the schools have relaxed in ensuring full compliance of the intervention due to lack of effective monitoring.
“…Because we don’t get much support, and when we take the teachers and students through the programme, we expect them to continue with the enforcement but everything depends on monitoring and when that support is not there to monitor and remind them, they also relax.
“We are unable to travel to the districts, to the schools, so that we can give them the technical support so that they continue the work”, she added.
Commenting on open defecation, Madam Bernedette said her outfit has outlined a number of programmes to address the situation among school children in the area including community outrage to sensitize the public on the dangers of the indiscriminate defecation.
According to her, the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene component of the school health programme is a shared responsibility and particularly mentioned children, as having the biggest role to play in addressing the open defecation menace in the region.
She disclosed there are ongoing Peer Health Clubs in some of the schools as part of measures taken against open defecation, adding that, members of these clubs are expected to be peer educators among their colleagues and community members.
“It forms part of the school activities and mostly they use the co-curriculum activities time to do that – so they go to schools or when there is a community durbar, the children are taken there to act a drama on open defecation, we have the effects and the positive gains, so that the community members can see” she explained.
Madam Bernedette also implored head teachers to always educate parents and guardians during their Parent Teachers Association meetings and encouraged community members to avoid vandalising school toilet facilities, which in her view, is a recipe for people to defecate in the open.