Parents invariably expect their children to be in a learning environment which is safe, secure and hygienic. To provide healthy and hygienic learning spaces to the students, school leaders need to ensure basic WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) practices. To ensure that in a school setting, the architectural design component cannot be overlooked.
It is our observation, as school designers and planners, that the code of hygiene is neglected to a perilous extent in a number of schools. In many campuses, one will find the signs of blatant neglect while in others the neglect is not apparent. Marginalizing the concern for child health contradicts the fundamental elements of education and it can scarcely be stressed enough that health and hygiene are not subtleties but fundamental to any institution imparting education. School promoters—in rural and semi-urban settings—are seen to be negligent as they mistakenly believe they can afford to do so as the populace is ignorant and the local culture is itself suggestive of general neglect towards cleanliness and sanitation. In the urban settings, the failure to ensure the hygienic environment in the school can be attributed to faulty space planning, misplaced architectural priorities and ignoramus sense of economy.
Child health is one of the integral components of child rights and jeopardizing it is, in effect, child abuse. Keeping children for hours in a foul environment rife with health hazards and improper sanitation is as grave an issue as corporal punishment.
Who can deny that any talk of 21st-century education is just talking unless it is supported by evidence of sincerity and what could be more telling than the school promoter’s attitude towards the health of the students?
School students spend one-third of their day in the school and that makes the availability of an infrastructure that is equipped with adequate sanitation, hygiene besides ventilation and light an imperative.
Ensuring a hygienic environment in school
While we have dealt with the subject of the playground in the school, health was taken as the fundamental pretext for its necessity. In a scenario where we are deliberating upon the future health consequences and promoting sports in schools on the national level, is it not absurd to put children in immediate health crisis by neglecting the aspects that can ensure health and hygiene?
While coming up with the school masterplan sanitation must be central for both day and residential schools. While designing, as the norms of both government and central boards of education dictate, the adequate number of toilets must be constructed. The waste and sewage disposal must be planned with infallibility.
Major issues in Schools and Precautions to be taken by the school authority
Water Management: The availability of potable water is something in absence of which the operation of a school is in fact illegal. The technology must be employed for the purification of the drinking water and availability of running water must be ensured.
An advanced water management model in the school can keep school pupils away from various diseases. If it is not well planned then it can lead to the different health issues that can be acute or gradual and systemic.
The presence of hazardous compounds, for instance, lead, in water can render it toxic for the peripheral nervous system of our brain. If the concentration of lead is not neutralized, then it can cause neurological damage.
The improper management of water can lead to contagious diseases. In many schools, water availability becomes one of the major reasons behind the illness in students, especially during the monsoons.
So, in order to avoid the contamination in water and issues occurring from it, school management is advised to install the well-equipped water purification setup while establishing a school.
Medical Facilities and health consciousness: The presence of a medical facility within the premises is also a prerequisite. When a school is getting designed or planned, the health perspective should be prior in the project.
In order to balance the health graph of school students and to avoid any health crisis, school authorities should plan for a medical care center in the school campus, and expectation of a system to handle health emergency is also justified.
In conclusion, it must be said that school promoters must have their priorities straight and any deviation that can lead to vitiation of the environment jeopardizing child health must be avoided at all costs.
Founder & Consultant - School Serv
Vinod Kakumanu heads a team of school services professionals and is an independent commentator on Indian school education scenario. Vinod has assisted school promoters establish 35+ schools besides providing ancillary services to over 1000 schools across India. He envisions a future where quality education is made available to every child of the country. The focus he places on the quality of the deliverables and customer satisfaction has made him renowned in the field of K-12 school education.