Tiled floors, a mirror and a washbasin with soap – these seem like the basic ingredients for a school bathroom. For students of Nasautoka District School and many others in Fiji, this was not always so.
But this has changed for Nasautoka District School thanks to the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Schools Infrastructure Rehabilitation project. The project administered by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in partnership with the school, Live and Learn and the Ministry of Education is funded by the Australian Government.
UNICEF Pacific Representative, Dr. Karen Allen said “Safe drinking water and clean toilets are extremely important for children’s health, to prevent diarrhoea, and other diseases. It is also important for having a child friendly environment that is motivating for students, teachers and staff. We know that decent water and sanitation facilities improve attendance and even learning outcomes, for boys and girls.”
In opening the new WASH facilities, Acting Australian High Commissioner, Mr. Glenn Miles said “Australia has a long and proud history of support to health and education development in Fiji. Education and health are two key pillars of Australia’s aid program and we believe that good health and access to quality education are every child’s right. We also believe that contributing to good health and quality education for all is a means to achieve economic growth and improve the well-being of society.”
15 primary schools throughout Fiji have benefitted from improved WASH facilities through the project. The project, worth about FJD 3 million, also promotes good hygiene practices and benefits more than 2,500 girls and boys.
The improved facilities are of even greater significance, given that Nasautoka District School also serves as an evacuation centre for the flood-prone Wainibuka area.
In her vote of thanks, Nasautoka District School Head Teacher, Mrs Kasanita Cakacaka said “Last year most of the students used to get very sick. These students are agents [of change] and when they grow up to have families of their own, they will try their best to have good hygiene behaviour.”