Difference between a healthy school and one that is not

Students of Katuba in LubumbashiA story told by young reporters of Lubumbashi during a reporting covering two primary schools in the Katuba commune: a healthy school and one that is not. 

Dunia Zive : not healthy school

Ecole primaire Dunia ZiveDunia Zive is a primary school situated in the N’Sele neighbourhood in the Katuba commune of Lubumbashi. This mixed school is comprised of around 178 students of which 98 are girls. But for these students, the school only has two latrines that are not recommended hygienically. The students of this school are exposed to water-borne illnesses because this school does not have potable water accessible to all children.

We, the young reporters, met with Kaza, a student of 11 years old. She shared with us her experience and the difficulties faced by students in her school: “Our school does not have hygienic toilets in place, nor handwashing stations in place, even less is the potable water for students” she stated. But does this situation impact boys and girls differently? Like Kaza, Tshabola, a student of 12 years old, recognizes that the situation is bothersome: “we have to make do with the two latrines used by both the secondary and primary schools. Boys and girls mixed” he said with a face that was both sad and worried.

St. Philippe : healthy school

Elèves et reporters de Lubumbashi

Being young reporters, we cannot pretend that all the schools of Lubumbashi are not healthy. However, through our visit, we have realized that those in charge of certain schools have understood that it is not only necessary to think of the intellectual education of children, but also offer them a healthy environment for their intellectual as well as health development. This is the case of the primary school St. Philippe, located not far from the PS Dunia Zive. Consolat et Essaie, two students of PS St. Philippe, 11 and 9 years old respectively, found at the site provided us an image in these terms: “here, there are means of hand washing, the courtyard is always clean, we have a trash collection site, an incinerator, and students can drink clean water at any moment”. These two students proudly went on to say that their school completed all the requirements of a healthy school. “Even UNICEF has come to assess and has given us a flag to show that the school is healthy”, adds Consolat, smiling.

In this school, a flag with two students holding hands can be seen, a sign to indicate a healthy school. This flag demonstrates the cleanliness of the school is a matter which concerns all students.

Saint Philippe : a healthy school

As a part of the healthy schools program, a project of the Congolese government with the support of UNICEF and international funders, already 103 schools composed of 68,562 students, of which 32,614 are girls were certified with the support of donors in the Brussels Capital Region. These schools will add to the 260 schools enrolled in the program. In these schools, the students have at least access to hygienic latrines, potable water, and commit themselves to keeping their school clean, a manner to participate in the maintenance of a clean space.

St. Philippe is one of the schools considered healthy. To add to these schools in the scope of this program, the Congolese government and UNICEF anticipate to clean 2,500 school until the end of 2017 in their five year programme.

Healthy school and hand washing facilities

With regards to the analysis made in these two schools, an analysis according to which certain students have access to hygiene and sanitation in their school setting while others do not, we, the young reporters request that the government authorities and UNICEF through its donors construct hygienic latrines, put in place spigots, establish hand washing facilities, and garbage bins in other schools as they had done in the PS St. Philippe. This would help to achieve a respect for the rights of the child, particularly those for good health, hygiene, and a healthy environment. The schools that are not ‘healthy’ are often in the periphery neighbourhoods of Lubumbashi, whereas these students have the same rights as those who are located in the comfortable neighbourhoods.

Donate to all schools the hygiene kits in order to avoid that the students fall sick at school, as Article 24 of the Convention related to the rights of the child recognizes that all children have a right to health.

More info about healthy school

Healthy school for a better learning environment : Marie-Madeleine primary school in Kinshasa

Petition of the young reporters from Kinshasa : healthy schools widespread throughout the DRC

Post translated from French by Jennifer Schulz

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