Students at N’tjibougou School used to have to choose between relieving themselves outside in bushes or running home to use the bathroom and risk missing class.
They now have six new latrines, three for boys and three for girls – an improvement to the one restroom they used to have to share among 70 of their peers. This is just one of the changes that came about with the Dubai Cares WASH program in Mali’s schools.
N’tjibougou School created a Children’s Government for students to become actively involved in the changes taking place.
Nematou Malle, 12, is the Minister of Cleanliness and her job is to “keep all students in good health, see that they drink clean water, that they come to school clean and that the school latrines and courtyard are clean,” as she described to Dubai Cares.
Nematou created a hygiene kit for the school as part of the Dubai Cares initiative. The kit includes a brush, buckets, gloves, face masks, soap and bleach. As Minister of Cleanliness, Nematou is also in charge of collecting drinking water for classrooms, sweeping and removing trash, and making sure students wash their hands with soap.
Not only do these practices impact positive behavioral changes among students, but they also give those who are involved in the Children’s Government a sense of leadership and confidence.
Many children who do not finish school in Mali have preventable health problems that can be eliminated with more hygienic systems and access to safe and clean water and sanitation facilities at school.
The Dubai Cares WASH program in Mali covers 726 schools to provide water and sanitation infrastructure to ensure a healthy learning environment. The objective of the program is to improve children’s access to quality primary education.
– Haley Sklut