Lack of toilet facilities hinders girl-education, says group

NATIONAL School Health Desk Officer, Sanitation, Hygiene and Water in Nigeria (SHAWN) programme, Mr. Jide Dada, has fingered lack of toilet facilities as the leading cause of girl-child absenteeism in schools.

  Dada told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recently in Abuja, that most female students preferred to stay at home during their menstrual cycles owing to lack of dedicated toilet facilities in their schools.

  According to him, this is the leading cause of absenteeism in the northern part of the country.

  “The issues of menstrual hygiene is very crucial. Studies have shown that grown-up female children do not go to school for a week every month because of menstruation and lack of privacy.

  “They don’t want their male counterparts to now that they are menstruating that week. So, they stay back at home where they feel they will be properly catered for instead of messing themselves up at school, and being made jest of,” he said.

  Dada called on governments at all levels to provide water, and make sanitation and hygiene components available in all schools, especially in rural areas.

  He said schools would not move forward and be inclusive, if there were no gender-sensitive toilet facilities, adding that the provision of water points for children to always cleanup was of utmost importance.

  “Children need water in schools where they can go to wash off after physical education and practical lessons. They have to wash their hands at those critical periods. So, if water is not available in the school, it becomes difficult for any child to promote his or her personal hygiene. 

   “If water is available; if toilet facilities are available in numbers that are proportionate to the population of the school, the school will be gender sensitive, and spread of diseases will be reduced.”

  While informing that 28, 000 communities in the six states of Bauchi, Benue, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina and Zamfara would benefit from the SHAWN programme, Dada added that the programme would focus on empowering communities to eliminate open defecation, promote sanitation and community health.

  The desk officer said that the project was aimed at making select schools in each council area have a full complement of sanitation facilities, boreholes and access to toilet facilities.

  “The project is aimed at accelerating and sustaining progress in safe excreta disposal, the adoption of basic hygiene practices and access to safe water across select communities,” he said.

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