Philippines, 23 October 2017 — The Department of Education (DepEd) conducted a week-long celebration of the annual Global Handwashing Day (GHD) with the theme “Our Hands, Our Future”. Several public schools all over the Philippines, together with the school stakeholders, had their respective GHD festivities to reinforce hygiene practices in the community. This event also serves as a constant reminder to increase the understanding on the importance of proper handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to avoid diseases.
To conclude this year’s celebration, DepEd, with support from the Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) – Regional Fit for School Program, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Save the Children, and together with honoured guests, culminated the series of GHD festivities with a national program last October 23 at the Bulwagan ng Karunungan, DepEd Central Office in Pasig City. During this occasion, event footages from the various schools were also featured.
The Department of Education, together with partner organizations and stakeholders, called for the active participation of various stakeholders in its Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) in Schools (WinS) Program to ensure healthy learning environments that will support students’ right to health and education. Cognizant of DepED order No. 10, series 2016 “Policy and Guidelines for the Comprehensive WASH in Schools (WinS) Program”, clean water, functional toilets, and proper hygiene practice in schools are essential to achieving learning outcomes and are integral to school operations and improvement. Leveraging on Republic Act 9155, “Governance of Basic Education Act of 2001,” the WinS Three Star Approach (TSA) applies School-Based Management as a pathway to schools and stakeholders to take local action towards improving and sustaining WASH services.
The annual celebration of Global Handwashing Day is an opportunity to encourage people to wash their hands with soap at critical times (e.g., after using the toilet; before and after handling food/eating). Handwashing with soap, when practiced regularly at critical times, is one of the most cost-effective preventive measures because it can prevent the transmission of most infectious diseases. This simple procedure is thus vital to staying healthy. Improved health gives students the essential leverage to participate well in school and achieve the desired learning outcomes. The call for collective action towards forming the habit of handwashing with soap at critical times is a national concern, as Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones from the Department of Education stressed in her message during the event that, “The future of our children is in their hands.”