“Education is essential for escaping poverty, but schools without water, toilets and hygiene threaten the health and learning opportunities for millions of children, especially girls,” she says. “Pupils should not have to choose between staying healthy and getting an education.”
Globally, 31 per cent of schools lack clean water on site and 37 per cent of schools do not have a basic toilet for their pupils to use.
Addressing this sanitation gap this will be essential in the fight against Covid-19, says Henrietta Fore, Unicef executive director.
“Global school closures since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic have presented an unprecedented challenge to children’s education and wellbeing,” Ms Fore said.
“We must prioritize children’s learning. This means making sure that schools are safe to reopen – including with access to hand hygiene, clean drinking water and safe sanitation.”
The report stresses that governments seeking to control the spread of Covid-19 must balance the need for implementation of public health measures versus the associated social and economic impacts of lockdown measures.
“Access to water, sanitation and hygiene services is essential for effective infection prevention and control in all settings, including schools,” agreed Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO chief, while commenting on the latest findings.
“It must be a major focus of government strategies for the safe reopening and operation of schools during the ongoing Covid-19 global pandemic,” he said.
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