Prioritizing to keep a school and its environs clean

  • By Maung Thaung Win (Ex-diplomat)

Basic education schools across the country have opened since 1 June. After the calm of summer holidays in schools, the schools have become bustling with teachers, parents and students. Sweet voices from the classrooms make us hearty. It is a blessing for our country that a new generation of young people has been in classrooms. In addition, opening more schools mean shutting down more prisons. Therefore, it is more important for schoolchildren to learn their lessons happily. Southwesterly monsoon set in Myanmar in the last week of May. At the beginning of June, it was hot in the afternoon, but dark clouds create rain or thundershowers in the evening. It had been raining regularly all night. Because of storms originating from the Bay of Bengal, heavy rain poured across the country. Scattered rain was observed in some areas. Schoolchildren in some villages go to the school in a faraway place during the heavy rain. They tend to suffer from diarrhea, cough, and fever.

Health of Schoolchildren
Some school classrooms were covered with dust, dirt, waste and spider’s webs during the summer holidays, but cleaning was done days before the opening of the schools. Some schools are not kept properly. Unless school desks covered with clouds of dust are properly cleaned, schoolchildren have learned lessons on these desks, making brand new school uniforms dirty; they have to eat food and snacks with dirty hands.
School administrative committees, parents and teachers have to do in advance not to happen again. Toilets, snack bars, the inside and outside cleanings of schools should be carried out before 25 May, especially the cleaning of the classrooms. On the opening days, middle and high school students are assigned to do sweeping, collecting waste products and filling water pots whereas primary students cannot do their duties skillfully.
In some schools, the front and back entrances with pot-holes are dangerous for young children. During rainy season, the roads are usually muddy; they should be repaired in advance. In addition, school sport stadiums are covered with grass and bushes for schoolchildren too difficult to play. A headmaster could solve the problems by himself; the issues should be addressed with the active participation of parents in terms of finance and manpower. Donations should be used transparently and practically. Preventive measures to keep the outside and inside of the school School administrative committees with the close cooperation of teachers and parents could make the schools clean by contributing labour or donations. Those who are engaged in some ways should give financial support to the school central fund. By using these funds, cleaners could be hired for cleanliness inside and outside of the school campus. Some schools are covered with dense undergrowth with its signpost blurred. That is why the school has to seek the help of the Tatmadaw, the police force or the charity groups for its cleanliness. The authorities concerned should give collective financial support to the school so that children could learn lessons happily if the cleanliness inside and outside of the school was systematically done before its opening.
The school toilet is the most important place for children. In some schools, toilets keep stinking with swarms of flies. Abundant water supply is necessary; if possible the surroundings should be paved with quicklime. Soaps, tissue papers, and towels should be put inside the toilets. Teachers and parents are mainly responsible for their children to teach how to use the toilets systematically so that they could be prevented from infectious diseases. For everyone, knowledge and caution about health is not in excess.

Personal hygiene
Basic needs for children to keep them healthy and happy is personal hygiene. Parents should train their children in their young days to keep them hygienic. Nail and toe clippings, washing hands before meals and after using toilets, regular daily bath, shampooing hair and keeping school uniforms neat and tidy are good habits for them. Practicing these good habits might prevent them from infectious diseases from the outside of their school. In addition, their school uniforms must be regularly washed and ironed by their parents. Even if there are not many, some uniforms are needed to be dried and ironed.

School’s snack stalls
Another place for the sake of children’s health is school’s snack bars. Almost all schoolchildren usually go to snack stalls to have some sorts of snacks. They usually buy to eat all attractive snacks; they are usually made of chemical dyes and saccharin. Hand-made pickles and salads swarmed with flies might lead them to suffer from diarrhea. During the rainy season, ripe mangoes swarmed with flies and fermented foods cause serious ill health. Authorities concerned should make arrangements for hawkers to sell snacks compatible with health, and fresh fruits and foods not swarmed with flies.Parents should especially feed their children with nutritious foods. Some parents pay pocket money instead of preparing a lunch box in advance for their children. That is why schoolchildren will have to snacks swarmed with flies. These children might get diarrhea, becoming sickly and frail in the long run. If possible , the lunch box should be followed by nutritious snacks; the idea should be taken seriously by respective parents.

Easily infectious diseases
It rains off and on in June. Especially in July, it rains almost daily incessantly. Rain or sunshine makes the weather hot and cold. The weather is sultry at bedtime, but at dawn, it is chilly. These conditions make schoolchildren catch cold and cough; the brisk temperature makes them feverish. Children weak in body strength become easily infectious with viruses.

Sickly children in the classroom should be separated from other ones. Parents should not let them go to school, giving them a complete rest at home. Generally, children easily catch the fever when mingled with sick children.
The health of the children of school age depends on the cleanliness of their school. Badly-ventilated classrooms jammed with children and covered with dust and dirt, viruses spread easily among them. Schoolchildren in schools covered with undergrowth are likely to catch dengue haemorrahgic fever. Mosquitoes breed quickly in the dense undergrowth, muddy water, puddles and pools without roofs.

Taking great care
Cleanliness for school environs should be taken seriously by school administration council with close cooperation of parents. A teaching staff headed by the Headmaster or Headmistress should take great interest in cleanliness of their school. Unless cleaners and schoolchildren are unable to do their cleaning work, they should seek help from authorities concerned and town elders. As children learn lessons in clean school and its environs, they could come to school regularly. As a consequence, they are deemed outstanding students.

Examinations of health in schools
In addition, school examination groups should pay a regular visit to the Basic primary, middle and high schools. The graph in connection with the weight and height of children should be systematically recorded. Medical treatments should be given to children after systematic investigations who easily fall into diseases including dengue haemorrahgic fever and tuberculosis. While they are learning, whether there is enough light or not, adequate ventilation in the classrooms, toilets, snack bars, cleanliness inside and outside of the schools must be examined. Investigations should be taken whether there are bushes and heaps of refuse which need to be cut down and disposed. Findings should be reported to the authorities concerned so that children could learn lessons well.

For children to learn lessons well
Schoolchildren are indeed crown jewels of a country. Their learning lessons happily in the school depends mainly on teachers and parents.
As they are fully occupied in learning, classrooms and cleanliness play a vital role. In order to keep the school and its environs clean, regional authorities, school administrative council, parents and ward elders should take part in the task simultaneously. In this way, schoolchildren could learn in happy and healthy environments.
The rate of students and classrooms, adequate ventilation, clean toilets and snack stalls, cleanliness in the environs play an important role for the health of schoolchildren. It would be successful if regional health authorities, school administrative committee, teachers, and parents take active participation in the task to keep the school and its environs clean. Let the schoolchildren who are due to shoulder the responsibility for the benefits of our country take learning opportunities fully.
Translated by Arakan Sein

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