Liberia’s Vice President Joseph N. Boakai has launched the Wash in School Technical Assessment Report outside Monrovia. VP Boakai performed the launch over the weekend at the Careysburg High School in Montserrado County outside Monrovia. The ceremony brought together officials of government from line ministries and agencies, development partners, students, and members of the Diplomatic Corp.
Giving an overview of the report, a technician at the Ministry of Public Works, Mr. Abdul Koroma,said the wash in schools was conducted in schools across Liberia with actual data collection conducted between December 2015, and January 2016 thru a combination of quantitative methods.
According to Mr. Koroma, the objectives of the nationwide assessment were to provide information on key wash in schools indicators which will serve as baseline for all stakeholders, and to provide a list of key wash data and indicators to be incorporated into the Education Management Information System or (EMIS) at the Ministry of Education in Monrovia.
According to him, the assessment targeted all schools both public, and private, saying it was estimated that approximately 5,517 schools would have been reached in this assessment. He said the purpose for targeting all schools was to develop a database on wash infrastructure, and practices in all schools in the country, he added that at the end of the exercise 5,113 schools were reached with the response rate of 93%.
Meanwhile, the Public Works technician indicated that out of the 5113 schools that were reached include 2,581 public schools, 2,532 non-public schools, adding that primary schools accounted for were 72.8 percent (3,732), while the remaining 27.2 percent (1,390) were secondary schools According to him, the total number of rural area schools accounted for was 50.3 percent (2570), while urban areas schools made up the remaining 49.7percent (2543), and the total enrollment in all 5113 schools was reported to be 1,340,042 students.
The technical assessment report further stresses that every child has a right to safe, and healthy learning environment, including adequate wash service, but however more than half of all primary schools in developing countries have inadequate water facilities, and nearly two-thirds lacks single gender bathrooms.
The report also indicated that the shortage of wash in schools places the health and chances of survival of the most vulnerable children at risks, limited access to safe drinking water, lack of basic sanitation services and poor hygiene practices negatively impacts the overall health status, and development of children and leads to inability to learn and absenteeism.
Delivering the keynote address to participants at the official launch, Vice PresidentBoakai said the focuson the need for water in various schools could not be more welcomed, and that government has employed such a best practice by first conducting a scientific assessment of needs in the area that has set the country on the right course.
“It should be quite obvious how tedious our work has been an undertaking that covered over 5,000 schools with over one million students, saying we can imagine how challenging this has been featuring arduous journeys on not friendly highways, crunching of numbers, engaging local authorities, as well as tallying of data” He narrated that the object of this grueling work is to provide information on key wash in schools indicators which will serve as baseline for all stakeholders, adding that this information will lay out a list of key wash data, and system at the Ministry of Education to foster a more accurate assessment of the presence, and appropriateness of coordination mechanism at every level including district, county, and national levels.
The Vice President said the task is for the nation to generate the wherewithal-mobilizing the resources found wanting in the rather difficult aspect of finding resolution to the problem.“We have no illusion about the enormity of this task, particularly considering the strains currently visiting our national economy. But even in the face of these constrains, we can still assure that the Government of Liberia sustains an answering commitment to addressing the issue of safe drinking water supply to its people, and with our partners onboard, we can expect nothing but success”, Boakai concluded.
By Lewis S. Teh-Editing by Jonathan Browne