PROCTER and Gamble (P&G) Philippines, Safeguard and Synergeia Foundation are giving pupils in 55 public elementary schools in Iloilo access to complete five-faucet hand washing facility to promote the importance of proper hygiene and sanitation in keeping them healthy.
The first batch of completed hand washing facility was turned over in a ceremony held in Bancal Elementary School in Alimodian and Walang Elementary School in Lambunao on October 19.
Through the project, P&G communications manager Carissa Angela Limcaoco expects improvement on the hand washing habits of the pupils to prevent the spread and ingestion of germs that could develop to illnesses like gastroenteritis.
“Based on the study we conducted in Safeguard, known as the Philippine Handwashing Index, seven out of 10 Filipinos claim to wash their hands after using the toilet. But only two really do,” she said.
“The reasons why Filipinos do not wash their hands were due to lack of access to clean water, hand washing facility and soap. It is for this reason that we develop this project,” she added.
Following the completion of hand washing facilities in recipient schools, Safeguard will provide them with 17,000 pieces of soaps.
Schools in Gida prioritized
P&G has long been a partner of Synergeia in its education reform program. Their first collaboration led to the provision of laptops in select schools in the country, recalled Synergeia program officer Edwin Nacionales.
“I think P&G has been satisfied how Synergeia has been doing its initiatives in schools. So they have this second phase which is the construction of hand washing facilities in 55 public elementary schools in 19 towns in Iloilo,” he said.
Of the 19, Lambunao has most number of hand washing facilities considering that the schools therein were located in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (Gida).
The schools were Felimon Libero Memorial Elementary School (ES), Walang ES, Malag-it, and Maribong ES in Lambunao West District and Supoc Corot-on ES and Simsiman ES in Lambunao East District.
In Alimodian, the recipients were Quinaspan ES, Bancal ES, Manguining ES and Kulini ES.
Nacionales was with Synergeia operations officer Annie De Leon during the turnover ceremony.
Preventing absences due to illness
By improving the personal hygiene of pupils and increasing their awareness on the importance of hand washing before eating, and after using the toilet and playing, Bancal Elementary School principal Mary Jert Masculino hoped to lessen the incidence of absences due to illness in their school.
“We are very thankful to P&G and Synergeia because we used to have a hand washing area in school but it was damaged. With this, we can eliminate absences due to illness,” she said, adding they will soon construct another five-faucet hand washing facility so that 10 pupils can use it simultaneously.
Principal Arcelita Lebuna of Walang Elementary School, for her part, assured that the community will help maintain the project and that proper and frequent hand washing will not only be practiced in school but also in their homes.
According to Provincial Administrator Raul Banias, only 68 out of 100 pupils in Grade 1 can graduate while the 32 drop out of school due to poverty and sickness.
“If this continues, opportunities for these people are scarce in the future. This is the reason why we invest in education to improve human capital and liberate our people from the cycle of poverty,” said Banias. (PR)