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Sonko harps on the importance of hand washing with soap in schools

Jan 5, 2010, 12:56 PM

Mr Karamba Sonko, Senior Education Officer, Curriculum Research Evaluation Development Directorate under the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education has said that the main purpose of any school is to enable learning to talk place so that pupils are well prepared to lead productive lives.

Mr. Sonko made these remarks when he was presenting a paper on the potential of the private sector's contribution toward ensuring that, for every child, there's soap and water available in their schools and the importance of hand washing in schools and communities during a public-private partnership forum recently held.

He added that to achieve this effectively all school leaders need to organise and manage their schools in such a way that high standards of teaching and learning are achieved, with the well-being of girls and boys paramount as demonstrated in this national forum.

"In order for this to happen, a wide range of activities to support teaching and learning needed a careful planning and management, which requires a concerted effort," he stated.

He added that such activities includes, the promotion of a safe and healthy school environment, which according to the World Health Organization (WHO) are not simply matters of keeping clean and not becoming ill as some people believe, but it summed up to include the physical, mental, emotional and social Health.

He said that access to clean water supply is not a major problem as far as most Gambian schools are concerned, noting that although some schools' hand pumps needs major repairs.

However, he indicated that infection from stool through dirty hands at critical times in schools' hours is the most common, although, most easily prevented source of diarrhea and many other diseases affecting school children.

"Besides, it is important to note that, 90% of our population does not use soap to wash their hands at critical times; toilet, food preparation after attending to a baby."

The senior Educationist therefore expressed the need for the involvement of some potentials of the private sector?s contribution toward ensuring that "for every child there is soap and water available in their schools."

Through this, he continued "we can ensure that lives are saved through the adoption of hand washing with soap as a practice at every where especially in schools."

He added: "Needless to said that, private sectors by complementing government efforts in ensuring a clean and save environment for schools and immediate communities will further consolidate the gains made in inching closer to achieving the MDG- child survival goal and MDG-7 water goals."

He maintained that the invaluable contribution from records, of the private sector, through Sankung Sillah & Sons, who established an unprecedented pledge to provide almost 5000 bars of soap to dozen schools in the country.

"We do hope that other private sectors would soon play their parts with the view to ensuring that school children stay healthy, and enjoy their fundamental right to education without hindrance," he posited.

He reasoned that concerted efforts are needed to encourage the private sector to continue to accept their social responsibilities towards child survival and commit to continue to partnering with government of The Gambia in the drive to ensure that children in The Gambia have access to soap as enshrined in the vision 2020 document, for a healthy, educated populace, and contributing to the socio-economic activities of The Gambia.

Hand Washing with soap saves lives.