SSWM in School Curriculums (WS)

Compiled by:
Arne Menn (seecon international gmbh)

Executive Summary

This tool involves the integration of relevant sustainable water, hygiene and sanitation topics into school education in order to increase knowledge, change attitudes and encourage action. Bringing water and sanitation issues into the school curriculum provides a means of encouraging young people to understand not only the wider water and sanitation concepts, but also the effects of their own behaviour on water, its quality, and eco systems. This factsheet provides tips for organising a curriculum with specific themes, integrating water and sanitation issues into regular school subjects, learning and teaching methods and typical lesson plans.

School Education as a Tool to Increase Knowledge and Change Attitudes

There are many ways how water and sanitation issues can be introduced into the general curriculum both inside and outside the classroom. For example, teachers can use specific themes like diseases related to water supply and sanitation to integrate water and sanitation issues into education. Another idea to organise a school curriculum is the integration of water and sanitation issues into regular school subjects like geography, history, biology etc. Also actual local projects can be used as learning classrooms for water management lessons, and visits to water infrastructures may broaden the learning process (GWP 2008).
Naturally, teachers (and principals) are the main actors to use this tool, because schools provide unique opportunities for awareness raising as they bring large groups of people together for learning purposes and usually have systems for production and dissemination of educational material (SCHAAP et al. 2001).

Why Is It Important to Educate Children about Water and Sanitation?

 GENSCH, R. (2009)

School orientation on correct use of urine separation toilet at elementary school in Baluarte (Cagayan de Oro, Philippines). Source: SuSanA on Flickr (2009)

These days, increasing attention is given to the education of children and youth on water and sanitation related topics. For example, studies on introducing water use reduction behaviour show that the most efficient way to affect adult behaviour is through educating children at school (GWP 2008). And today's children will, sooner or later, decide the future use of our world’s water resources. Education can help to equip the next generation with knowledge and attitudes that promote the wise use of water and appropriate hygiene behaviour (SCHAAP et al. 2001).
School education can also provide an entry point to the community as a whole, for example, the introduction of latrines and hygiene-education at schools may trigger the development of improved hygiene norms in the household (SCHAAP et al. 2001).

Things to Consider Before Integrating SSWM Issues into the School Curriculum

Choosing suitable activities and material for a water curriculum depends on several factors (SCHAAP et al. 2001):

 

  • Age of the children: children within specific age ranges should be addressed differently (learning and teaching methods).
  • Relevant water and sanitation topics in the school's city/region (teaching children about conservation of drinking water in an area with plenty of clean drinking water is, of course, not as useful as teaching the subject in an arid region).
  • Cultural background of teachers and children.
  • Time, skills and facilities (supply, sanitation and hand washing facilities) available.
  • Possible linkages with existing school campaigns, educational programmes or school networks.
  • The literature and materials to be distributed should be available, sufficient and relevant.
  • Have the teachers been trained in how to teach water and sanitation education? Do teachers have and use educational guides and materials (IRC 2007)?
  • Not all activities are equally suitable for children who are physically disabled. Teachers should be selective and make adjustments, especially by stimulating other children to include disabled classmates so that they participate fully for mutual understanding, joint learning and joy (KHANAL et al. 2005).
  • Gender and hygiene behaviour: In teacher training, which teachers are trained: female teachers, male teachers or both? Both is usually best for reaching both girls and boys (IRC 2007).

Using Specific Themes to Integrate Water Issues into the School Curriculum

One way to organise a curriculum for education is to use themes. The content of the themes should vary according to the location and should be based on assessment of the attitudes, behaviours or diseases that are prevalent in that area. Possible content can be divided into four basic themes (IRC 2007):

 

  1. Water, sanitation and waste in school, homes and community - including the different types of water sources; the transport, handling and storage of drinking water (see for example HWTS; and different types of waste existing within a community (such as human excreta and rubbish) and how these differ in terms of cleanliness and risks to health.
  2. Personal and food hygiene in school, homes and community (including food vendors) – covering conditions and practices that are either positive or negative and the reasons, ways and means to change the latter (for more information on this issue, see CHAST).
  3. Diseases related to water supply and sanitation that have an impact on someone’s health – including information on the incidence and transmission, as well as the prevention, of diseases in the local environment.
  4. Facilities for water, sanitation and hygiene within schools, households and the community. This category may cover topics such as the planning, construction, maintenance, management, monitoring and use of water supply, excreta disposal and other existing facilities (see also school campaigns).

 

Other important concepts such as gender, equity, and helping other children in the family are cross-cutting and can appear in many of the topics. Check the invalid link or the further readings below to get more detailed information on how to integrate these topics into the lessons.

Integration of Water and Sanitation Issues into Regular School Subjects

 GTZecosan

Ecological sanitation (Ecosan) education at Plant Kaurine Primary School (Maua District) in 2009. Source: SuSanA on Flickr (2009)

Another idea to organise your school curriculum is the integration of water and sanitation issues into regular school subjects (SCHAAP et al. 2001). Water-related topics are great opportunities to integrate practical real-life situations rather than focussing on more abstract topics. By using a topic like water, pupils can practice skills such as researching issues, debating, studying the economics of decision making and developing marketing material. Some examples of such an integration into regular school subjects (SCHAAP et al. 2001):

 

  • Water and geography: Where does the water come from, from which streams, and where does it drain? (see also: the water cycle)
  • Water and chemistry: How is the health of a waterway determined? What types of tests are typically performed?
  • Water and language/art: Create a song or poem on a water issue.
  • Water and mathematics: Calculate how much water a family uses at home.
  • Water and History: Compare and contrast how the use of the river has been changed over the years.

Learning and Teaching Methods

Knowledge should provide the basis and motivation for behavioural changes or action. But for effective child-centred education, the methods that are used should be activity based and joyful for children. The methods used should not only give the children the opportunity to learn by doing and experiencing but also the opportunity to learn at their own pace and in their own style. They will be given the opportunity to personalise the information and develop positive attitudes and values as well as to practise the new skills (IRC 2007).
The design and selection of educational methods should be in line with the age of the children. The development and characteristic patterns that are common for most children within specific age ranges can be divided into three categories: physical, cognitive and social-emotional (NCERT 1998). See the examples below of how the child’s age and characteristics influence the choice of learning and teaching methods (IRC 2007):


Children (4-7 years)

Physical: Children in this age find it difficult to sit for a long time and will need a variety of activities involving frequent changes of body position. The child needs opportunities to run, jump, balance, etc. During education, the child can, for example, be asked to go outside and make drawings of different water sources and indicate which ones are suitable and safe for drinking.
Cognitive: Children within this age have short attention spans and can only concentrate on single elements at a time. They need a lot of opportunities to speak with others and listen to good language. In hygiene class the teacher can tell a story, for example, on the effects of eating raw food. The story has to be simple, short and fun, and the teacher should allow children to comment and interpret at some point.
Social-emotional: Children in the age range of 4 to 7 years need physical reassurance through appropriate patting and touching to give them a sense of security and confidence. In hygiene class children can, for example, sing songs about how to clean themselves in the morning, during which they can act out the different behaviours. After this they can be complimented on their performance.

Children (8-11 years)

Physical: Children in the age range of 8 to 11 can perform movements involving better body control. In hygiene class children can be asked to play pantomime games, for example, to depict different hygiene behaviours.
Cognitive: Children develop the capacity to see other points of view. This development helps the child analyse, understand and see logical relationships. For example, in hygiene class, the children can be asked to organise and have a discussion that critically analyses a hygiene-related problem in the community and develops a number of solutions.
Social-emotional: Children get easily embarrassed by physical displays of feelings and are sensitive to gender differences. In hygiene education, the teacher has to take these feelings into account, for example, when working in groups, being careful not to reinforce unhelpful or antisocial gender differences and stereotypes, but instead promoting cooperation.

Adolescents (12-16 years)

In this age group, children start to develop social and analytical skills for exploring their position in the community (KHANAL et al. 2005). They can question socio-economic differences and can start to become aware of gender disparities. And they begin to understand abstract concepts around sanitation, water and social relations. Hence, teachers can address more complex issues and use methods like group and class discussions, role-plays and skills demonstrations. Adolescents can be involved in actions, with more responsibility than in younger age groups. For example, doing hygiene tasks (with an educational purpose) such as helping younger children visiting toilets and washing hands or family members observations and analysis of behaviour (MOOIJMAN 2010). The older the adolescents, the more material that is designed for adults can be used, given that the teacher makes a careful selection of the material.

Applicability

The content should be suitable to the children and the country. Specific water, sanitation and hygiene issues may be unique to certain countries, population groups or areas of residence. The cultural or religious background of teachers and children can be crucial when addressing sanitation and hygiene aspects, which affect certain traditions or norms.
When developing educational materials, teachers do not necessarily have to make use of expensive materials, but can also use practical, locally available, low-cost materials. For example, water and sanitation materials, such as empty plastic bottles, toilet roles, etc., can be used for making a colourful display of a safe and clean school environment.
Class size: Participatory education can be carried out even in large classes with 50 and more children. For example, a lecture is an effective way to increase knowledge, but it is less effective in influencing beliefs and building skills. Discussion, debates and carefully prepared written materials can be more effective than lectures in dispelling any false beliefs regarding water, sanitation and hygiene (IRC 2007).

Advantages

  • Education can help raise the next generation with knowledge that promotes sustainable water, hygiene and sanitation behaviour
  • School education can provide an entry point to the community as a whole
  • Knowledge will provide the basis and motivation for behavioural changes or action
  • Children can positively influence the practices among their family members
  • Suited to supporting the acceptance and effectiveness of other instruments

Disadvantages

  • Education is not enough - inhibiting structures have to be addressed as well
  • Effectiveness and impact often hard to measure
  • Teachers have to be trained in how to teach water and sanitation education
  • Teachers must be able to integrate water and sanitation subjects into the syllabus (especially when these subjects are traditionally not given much importance), and must be able to balance time with other subjects that they must teach (time constraints)
  • The measures must achieve a measurable impact

References Library

GWP (Editor) (2008): Education curricula on water management. URL [Accessed: 22.04.2010]. PDF

IRC (Editor) (2007): Towards Effective Programming for WASH in Schools: A manual on scaling up programmes for water, sanitation and hygiene in schools . (= Technical Paper Series No. 48). Delft: IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre. PDF

KHANAL, S.; MENDOZA, R.; PHIRI, C.; ROP, R.; SNEL, M.; VAN WIJK, C. (2005): The Joy of Learning: Participatory lesson plans on hygiene, sanitation, water, health and the environment. (= Technical Paper Series No. 45). Delft: IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre. PDF

NCERT (Editor) (1998): The primary years: towards a curriculum framework. New Delhi: National Council of Educational Research and Training.

SCHAAP, W.; STEENBERGEN, F. van (2001): Ideas for Water Awareness Campaigns. Stockholm: The Global Water Partnership. URL [Accessed: 17.04.2012]. PDF

GTZ (Editor) (2009): Pupils at Kaurine school. URL [Accessed: 25.04.2010].

MOOIJMAN, A.; SNEL, M.; GANGULY, S.; SHORDT, K. (2010): Strengthening Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Schools – A WASH guidance manual with a focus on South Asia. (= Technical Paper Series No. 53). The Hague: IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre. URL [Accessed: 22.04.2010]. PDF

Further Readings Library

Reference icon

IRC (Editor) (2003): School Sanitation and Hygiene Education. Thematic Overview Paper. Delft: IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre. PDF

This paper focuses on sanitation and hygiene education at the school level. It may be of relevance to practitioners and to academics who are working directly or indirectly on school sanitation and hygiene education, e.g. managers and trainers involved in school programmes operating at the state, district or community level.


Reference icon

IRC (Editor) (2007): Towards Effective Programming for WASH in Schools: A manual on scaling up programmes for water, sanitation and hygiene in schools . (= Technical Paper Series No. 48). Delft: IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre. PDF

This manual deals with school water, sanitation and hygiene education. It describes many of the elements needed for scaling up programmes for water, sanitation and hygiene in schools while ensuring quality and sustainability. It contains many examples, most of which are drawn from a UNICEF-IRC pilot study for School Sanitation and Hygiene Education (SSHE) carried out in six countries (Burkina Faso, Colombia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Vietnam, and Zambia).


Reference icon

KHANAL, S.; MENDOZA, R.; PHIRI, C.; ROP, R.; SNEL, M.; VAN WIJK, C. (2005): The Joy of Learning: Participatory lesson plans on hygiene, sanitation, water, health and the environment. (= Technical Paper Series No. 45). Delft: IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre. PDF

This paper is a guide for teachers and others who want to design participatory learning activities on hygiene and sanitation as part of, or in addition to, their school curriculum or in work with other children aged 2 to 14. It contains a series of information sheets for planning, implementing and evaluating participatory learning activities on a specific subject. Examples include personal hygiene, the safe transport and handling of water, protecting local water sources, and locally prevailing disease transmission routes.


Reference icon

MOOIJMAN, A.; SNEL, M.; GANGULY, S.; SHORDT, K. (2010): Strengthening Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Schools – A WASH guidance manual with a focus on South Asia. (= Technical Paper Series No. 53). The Hague: IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre. URL [Accessed: 22.04.2010]. PDF

This Manual is meant for managers and trainers involved in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in school programmes operating at different levels, such as state/ province, district or block. It also provides many useful guidelines and activities that apply to similar programmes elsewhere. The manual can be used in various ways, such as to assist in the planning, designing, implementing and/or monitoring of schools programmes.


Reference icon

SCHAAP, W.; STEENBERGEN, F. van (2001): Ideas for Water Awareness Campaigns. Stockholm: The Global Water Partnership. URL [Accessed: 17.04.2012]. PDF

This document includes a section for advocacy, presenting an overview of many ideas and initiatives with emphasis on practical suggestions and clues. It is not a guidebook for planning your advocacy work but it might be a great knowledge source and starting point for your activities.


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UN-HABITAT (Editor) (2006): Facilitators & Trainers guideBook. Human Values-based Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Classrooms. Nairobi: United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT). URL [Accessed: 22.04.2010]. PDF

This guidebook targets the water and sanitation service sector, such as public or private utilities in urban centres who wish to engage in water and sanitation education activities through dedicated classrooms. It also focuses on encouraging schools to cooperate with the water and sanitation sector on joint education initiatives.


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UN-HABITAT (Editor) (2006): Facilitators & Trainers guideBook Part 2. Human Values-based Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Classrooms. Nairobi: United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT). PDF

This part of the trainers guide provides the trainer with applications of knowledge transfer to learners: Various approaches and methodologies of education are explored and applications of these are further demonstrated in a collection of lesson plans. It is a source of information and provides examples of classroom activities.


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SUSANA (Editor) (2010): Sustainable Sanitation for Schools. (= SuSanA Factsheet). Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA). URL [Accessed: 22.04.2012]. PDF

The aim of this Factsheet is to advocate for sustainable school sanitation by highlighting existing challenges, exploring the various innovations both in hardware and software from examples in Africa, Asia, and South America identifying the common principles that are needed for successful implementation.


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TOUBKISS, J. (2010): How to Manage Public Toilets and Showers. (= Six Methodological Guides for a Water and Sanitation Services' Development Strategy, 5). Cotonou and Paris: Partenariat pour le Développement Municipal (PDM) and Programme Solidarité Eau (pS-Eau). URL [Accessed: 19.10.2011]. PDF

The purpose of this decision-making aid is to provide practical advice and recommendations for managing toilet blocks situated in public places. It is primarily aimed at local decision-makers in developing countries and at their partners (project planners and managers).

See document in FRENCH


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UNEP (2013): TUNZA magazine: Freshwater. Nairobi: UNEP. URL [Accessed: 08.04.2013]. PDF

At the start of 2013, International Year of Water Cooperation, the February issue of Tunza magazine, the UNEP magazine for youth, focuses on freshwater issues.


Reference icon

WORLD BANK (2013): Handwashing With Soap Toolkit. Washington: World Bank. URL [Accessed: 15.05.2013].

This toolkit, intended for practitioners interested in behavior change, is organized into four modules: Behaviour Change, Sustainability, Integration and Results. Each has reports and presentations about the lessons learned from previous projects, as well as mass media, direct consumer contact, and interpersonal communication tools used throughout previous projects.


Case Studies Library

Reference icon

MOOIJMAN, A.; SNEL, M.; GANGULY, S.; SHORDT, K. (2010): Strengthening Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Schools – A WASH guidance manual with a focus on South Asia. (= Technical Paper Series No. 53). The Hague: IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre. URL [Accessed: 22.04.2010]. PDF

This Manual is meant for managers and trainers involved in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in school programmes operating at different levels, such as state/ province, district or block. It also provides many useful guidelines and activities that apply to similar programmes elsewhere. The manual can be used in various ways, such as to assist in the planning, designing, implementing and/or monitoring of schools programmes.


Reference icon

SCHAAP, W.; STEENBERGEN, F. van (2001): Ideas for Water Awareness Campaigns. Stockholm: The Global Water Partnership. URL [Accessed: 17.04.2012]. PDF

This document includes a section for advocacy, presenting an overview of many ideas and initiatives with emphasis on practical suggestions and clues. It is not a guidebook for planning your advocacy work but it might be a great knowledge source and starting point for your activities.


Awareness Raising Material Library

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PHADKE, S. (2009): Kidsan. Pune: Aman Setu Publication. PDF

Comic strip by Sourabh Phadke about the importance of children in the process of sustainable sanitation and how to involve them through education and activities.


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PHADKE, S. (2009): Poo. Pune: Aman Setu Publication. URL [Accessed: 22.04.2012]. PDF

This comic strip by Sourabh Phadke explains why sanitation matters, how urine and faeces can be treated and how technical measures should be applied. A great piece of artwork and a funny reality check for sanitation issues.

See document in HINDI


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SEECON (Editor) (2010): Sustainable Sanitation Exchange. Basel: seecon. PDF

This short flyer presents the project “Sustainable Sanitation Exchange” – a project that virtually brings together two school classes, one from the south, and one from the north, to discuss sustainable approaches towards sanitation and strengthen intercultural understanding.


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UN-WATER (Editor) (2006): Water: The Challenges. Educational poster. The United Nations World Water Development Report 2 (WWDR2). Perugia: United Nations World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP). PDF

Using data and graphics from WWDR2, this two-sided poster presents the main water-related challenge areas and local actions from the WWAP case studies. The poster is available in A1-size upon request to wwap@unesco.org.


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VELASQUEZ ORTA, S. ; FURLONG, C. (2009): Messages for Youth. The United Nations World Water Development Report 3: Water in a Changing World. Perugia: United Nations World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP). URL [Accessed: 17.04.2012]. PDF

This 4-page factsheet provides messages for children and youth and answers questions like: How does the worldwide water situation affect young people? How does the way we use water have an impact on the environment? Youth and water, what can you do?


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WATERAID (Editor) (2008): Children and WaterAid. Issue sheet. London: WaterAid. PDF

This Factsheet by WaterAid explains the impacts of unsafe water, poor sanitation and bad hygiene on children and what can be done to address these problems.


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ECOSAN CLUB (Editor) (2013): Sanitation Comics. (= Sustainable Sanitation Practice, 15). Vienna: Ecosan Club. URL [Accessed: 21.06.2013]. PDF

Cartoonists from all over the world have produced comics on sanitation, put together in this publication.


Important Weblinks