As hundreds of millions of children across the world head to school, something critical will be missing for more than half of them. It’s not teachers or text books or even desks. It’s toilets.
Over half the world’s schools lack toilets and a place for children to wash their hands; 50% lack safe drinking water. It doesn’t matter how good the education is if the children can’t be there. No school should be built without safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities, nor should any student be subjected to the indignity of having no choice but to defecate in the open.
A coalition of nearly 30 organizations, including UNICEF, has mobilized to demonstrate the solvability of this challenge, to highlight the solutions they are currently implementing and to ensure the U.S. Government, the World Bank, and other actors in the education and health sectors do not forget WASH in schools.
WASH programs in schools make a monumental difference to education. In one school in Ghana, Mohammed Yahaya, a teacher, proclaimed, “I’ve been teaching here for eight years. Before the well we had 46 students, now we have close to 400 students!”