/ 13 March 2021

MORE schools are now compliant with the Department of Education’s WASH in School program after having installed water, sanitation and hygiene facilities.

The department’s monitoring found that schools that participated in the program recorded impressive improvement in their compliance with the five WASH indicators for three consecutive years.

The number of schools meeting the indicators and reaching the national standards has tripled from 9 percent to 26.5 percent.

A WinS report said 40,000 schools are part of the program.

Under the WinS Program, a school must have safe drinking water, gender-segregated toilets, group handwashing facility with soap, daily group handwashing activities and sanitary pads to earn at least a star out of the three-star rating in its WinS implementation.

“Access to water, sanitation and hygiene services is important for effective infection prevention and control especially in an educational setting. Promoting handwashing activities and maintaining a safe, clean, and healthy learning environment are highly effective measures to reduce the transmission of the Covid19 virus and other infectious diseases,” the report said.

Meanwhile, participation in WinS monitoring has increased substantially over the three-year monitoring period, with a 10 percent increase or about 5,000 schools each year. From 65.6 percent in School Year 2017-2018, it dramatically increased to 87.9 percent in the most recent monitoring.

Region VI retained its position with the highest percentage of schools rising to the national WinS standards with one in every 10 schools having a three-star rating.

The assessment also cited improvement in public schools’ performances in areas with less investment such as water, deworming, health education and behavioral change management like handwashing, toothbrush routines and regular cleaning of sanitation facilities.

The report said 61 percent of schools have safe drinking water on school grounds, nearly two out of three schools have gender-segregated toilets, two in five schools perform supervised daily group handwashing, over half of the schools have group handwashing facilities with soap and four out of five schools have sanitary pads available to students.

However, the report noted that schools see sanitation infrastructure as a challenge because it demands investment and a longer time for the construction of toilet and handwashing facilities.

“The WinS program is at the core for safe reopening and operation of schools during this Covid19 crisis,” the report said.

To strengthen the response to the pandemic, DepEd plans to incorporate protective measures into the schools’ routines. It is also developing checklists to brief schools and gauge their readiness for the face-to-face classes.

The implementation of WASH in Schools is in partnership with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, UNICEF and Save the Children Philippines.