A survey of the sanitation and hygiene situation in public primary schools in Thika Municipality
Research findings indicate that poor hygiene and sanitation may lead to numerous diseases, most of which are life-threatening. There is therefore need for emphasis on hygiene and sanitation in schools. After the family home, schools have a central place in the community as most important places of learning for children, because that is where they spend most of the day. The study therefore investigated the sanitation and )1I:ygiene situation in public primary schools in Thika Municipality. This study employed. the descriptive survey design to find out the sanitation and hygiene situation in public primary. schools. The target population for the study was all teachers and pupils of all the 24 public primary schools in Thika Municipality, Thika District; from which 10 schools were randomly selected. Forty teachers and 200 pupils took part in the study. Two research tools were employed for data collection: questionnaires for teachers and pupils, and an observation checklist. Quantitative data was analyzed descriptively using frequency counts and percentages and presented using frequency tables, bar graphs and pie charts. Qualitative data was reported in narrative form and where possible percentage of cases reported. The study established that public primary schools in Thika Municipality are in a poor state of sanitation and hygiene. The study found that: most of the basic sanitation resources are lacking. Schools do not meet the required ratio of pupils per toilet, which is a result of overenrolment as a result of free primary education. The schools have not provided hand washing facilities, and even where they are available, they are not suitable for use by lower primary school pupils. Pupils do not wash hands before meals and after visiting toilets, meaning that they are at risk of contracting diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, and worm infections. While the attitudes of pupils towards sanitation and hygiene practices were positive, the schools had not provided the enabling factors, that is, resources like adequate latrine facilities and safe water supply that would enable . pupils to transform acquired knowledge, attitudes and beliefs into desirable behaviours. The study recommends that: schools should provide more toilets in line with the ministerial guidelines and ensure that they are always functional and that the toilets are suitable for use by younger pupils; schools should provide running water and toilet ball in the urinals; while setting up sanitation facilities such hand washing .facilities, schools should ensure that the resources are suitable for use by all pupils including lower primary pupils, girls, and those with disabilities; the school administration should playa lead role in mobilizing resources from the community such as detergents; teachers should be vigilant in ensuring that pupils clean their hands before meals and after visiting the toilet; the school administrators and teachers should organize life skills training for the pupils in order to correct misconceptions abopt hygiene and sanitation; the community should play a role by mobilizing resources for improvement of hygiene and sanitation situation in public primary schools; and that officials from the public health ministry should take it upon themselves to pay impromptu visits to schools and assess the hygiene and sanitation situation.