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How can I involve pupils and staff on a WaSH project in urban schools?

William Berbon
Knowledge Point


This is a question that I've been asked in the field so I wanted to share it with everyone on KnowledgePoint

1 Answer


The best way to get pupils and staff involved is through their involvement and the creation of “Youth Clubs” or “School Brigade” or “You name it”, in charge of the monitoring of the WaSH facilities and of the hygiene promotion, and through “peer-to-peer learning” (kids teaching kids).

Keep in mind that the main objectives of implementing WaSH projects in school, besides reducing the WaSH diseases, are:

• Increasing pupils’ attendance;

• Favoring the dignity, the inclusion and the equality;

• Making the school more attractive for parents.

And the school will reach these objectives through the improvement/construction of facilities that are durable, inclusive and adapted to children (hardware) and through the adoption of good hygienic practices thanks to the improvement of knowledge and attitudes (software).

When we established a pupils’ team – I’ll call it “School Brigade” – in collaboration with the school staff in cities of Mongolia, DRC, Georgia or Kirghizstan, we made sure that at least 2 adults from the school would support and accompany them.

The “School Brigade” has to:

• Sensitize others pupils on good hygienic and environmental practices and encourage the change of behavior;

• Organize the cleaning and maintenance of the WaSH facilities;

• Take care of school;

• Promote good hygienic and environmental practices outside the school;

• Evaluate the impact of their actions on school and pupils.

While the adults have to:

• Train the brigade on the Information, Education and Communication (IEC) tools;

• Plan their activities;

• Improve the IEC materials and imagine new ones that pupils could develop;

• Monitor and evaluate actions’ impact.

You need to clearly define with the school staff the roles and responsibilities of everyone and which topics the School Brigade has to cover. Obviously, these topics are a function of the context and it’s always better to have a few topics well covered with attractive communication and learning materials; rather than too many, confusing pupils and annoying them. The sensitization sessions organized by the Brigade could be indoor or outdoor but it must be different than a passive lesson. Make it participative, interactive and fun!

Also, remember that the School Brigade needs to be:

• Visible in the school: everyone in the school recognizes them (wearing t-shirt or hats, having members’ photos at the entrance of the school) and knows their role inside the school (with a board at the school entrance showing the past, on-going and planned activities);

• Visible to other schools: in Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia for example, each Brigade knew what the other schools were doing and some school-exchanges were organized to inspire each other;

• Inclusive: make sure that the actions and activities developed by the Brigade are accessible to all pupils, boys, girls and disabled;

• Durable: the School Brigade is a long term project, where members need to be replaced when they leave the school and where the messages must be repeated to be understood.

From my experience in establishing School Brigades in various countries and contexts, I remember a few key rules:

• Fix WaSH in the daily life in order to make ... (more)