Poor School Sanitation and Health of Pupils in Primary Schools

Poor School Sanitation and Health of Pupils in Primary Schools
Poor School Sanitation and Health of Pupils in Primary Schools

ABSTRACT: The study was carried out to examine the Poor School Sanitation and Health of Pupils in Primary Schools in Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. Four research questions and four hypotheses were raised to guide the study. Related literatures were reviewed. The study adopted a descriptive survey design to obtain responses from the respondents. Frequency counts and percentage were used to answer the research questions, while chi-square analyses were used to test the hypotheses at .05 significant level. Based on the findings of the study, it was revealed that the sanitary state of primary schools in Ibesikpo-Asutan L.G.A., Akwa Ibom State was discovered to pose threat to health of the pupils in the area due to poor sanitary environment and lack of active and committed teaching of the pupils to maintain sanitary life styles.


Poor School Sanitation and Health of Pupils in Primary Schools



1.1 Background to the study

Poor school sanitation is detrimental to the health of the learners and teachers, and is an issue of great concern in our public primary schools. Sanitation and hygiene remain a challenge in most primary schools. The sanitary conditions of schools in rural and urban areas are often creating health hazard and other negative impacts, thus, indicating that schools are not safe for teaching and learning for the pupils.  Although facilities are recognized as fundamental for hygiene behaviour and pupils’ wellbeing, in practice, the sanitary conditions of most of the schools are appalling.

Sanitary facilities are either nonexistent, too few or inadequate due to poor maintenance. Lack of facilities, such as water, toiler system and wash hand basins form part of the major problems in rural and urban primary schools. However, where these facilities are present, they are not adopted to the needs of the pupils. Also, the motivation of teachers and head teachers to provide skill based hygiene education is not always evident (United Nation Education Fund, 2000).          School Sanitation comprises those activities carried out in schools to protect the pupils and staff from the adverse effect of insanitary and unsafe school environment. Insanitary school environment exposes the child to physical, biological and psychosocial hazards. A conducive environment, devoid of accidents and communicable diseases is required to promote learning in schools(WHO,2012). According to the National Sanitation Foundation of USA, the word sanitation is defined as a way of life that is expressed in the clean home, farm, business, neighborhoods and community (Park, 2011). Also, the World Health Organization (WHO) defined sanitation as the provision of facilities and services for safe disposal of human urine and faeces( WHO,2012).

Furthermore, sanitation is referred to by WHO as a concept of provisioning facilities and services for safe disposal of human excreta, maintenance of proper hygienic conditions by sustainable collection of solid waste and treatment of waste water (“WHO |Sanitation” 2014) whereas in some other definitions the term sanitation also meant to ensure public health by preventing the transmission of diseases via improper use of toilet and open space defecation (Nadkarni 2004). “Improved Sanitation” or “Improved Sanitation facilities” refers to those kinds of facilities where the pupils do not come in direct contact with human excreta and are maintained in a more sanitary condition (UNICEF 2006). Improved sanitation facilities includes Flush or pour to piped sewer system/septic tank/pit larine, ventilated pit latrine, pit latrine with a slab or a composting toilet (World Health Organization and WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation 2006). Oxford Advance Dictionary (2007) defines sanitation as the equipment and system that keep places clean especially by removing human waste, disease resulting from poor sanitation.

Disease related to poor sanitation and latrine availability causes many pupils to fall ill or even die. Pupils are the most vulnerable to health hazards and consequently are affected the most. Million people died because of diarrhea disease of which the majorities were children. In addition, poor sanitation has led to the infestation of nearly a billion people largely children with a variety of worm infections, with its corresponding costs of health and energy. The   impact of poor sanitation and hygiene is known to be disastrous for small children. It also has an important impact on the health of schools age children including adolescents.  Water and sanitation related disease affecting children include diarrhea, trachoma, schistosomiasis, scabies and guinea worm( Pinto, Velebit, & Shibuya, 2008)

To address this global challenge, efforts have been made towards improving public health situations of primary schools. Globally, the various initiatives by Health Organizations to improve school sanitations and hygiene were formally launched in 2010. This major initiative involved (UNICEF) and key partners who call on decision – makers to increases investment in the area of safe water supply and sanitation concerns (WHO, 2008).  Some studies carried out in few public primary schools in the state revealed the poor sanitary state of most primary schools, present threats to the health of the pupils and teachers. Beside lack of sanitary facilities, like functional water supply, water system latrines and wash hand basins in the classrooms and other sanitary facilities that guarantee good health of the pupils, most schools lack parameter fencing that restricted free entry into the schools to defecate after school official hours (Usip &Nwosu; Atting, Ukpe & Usip, 2013).

It is obvious that lack of sanitation and hygiene is a public primary school requires and urgent issue and concern,  all of these have compromised pupils’ attendance and performance at school and most commonly can result to death.  However, various efforts made by successive administrations in  the State and Local Government Areas  have not shown  significant improvement in  the sanitation and hygiene of the primary schools to guarantee safe hygiene environment for teaching and learning activities of the pupils.

Poor School Sanitation and Health of Pupils in Primary Schools

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Schools, particularly those in rural areas, often completely lack drinking water and  other sanitation facilities;  such as wash hand basins, water system toilets,, etc. However, where such facilities do exist they are often inadequate in both quality and quantity. Schools with poor water, sanitation and hygiene conditions, and intense level of person to person contact are high risk environment for children and staff, and exacerbate children’s particular susceptibility to environmental health hazards.

More so, children’s ability to learn may be affected by inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene condition in several ways. These include helminth infection which affect hundreds of millions of school age children, long-term exposure to chemical contaminations in water (e.g.) lead and arsenic) diarrhea disease and malaria infections, all of which force many children to be absent from school. These environments make teaching and learning very difficult. 

The international policy environment increasingly reflects these issues. Providing adequate level of water supply, sanitation and hygiene in schools is of direct relevance to the United Nation (UN) millennium developing goals of achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and reducing child mortality. It is also supportive of other goals, especially those on major disease and infant mortality. Based on this background, the study will be carried out to investigate the sanitary and hygiene situation of primary schools in Ibesitkpo L.G.A. of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria with its relevance to enhancing the health situation of the pupils and teachers and its conduciveness to teaching and learning.

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Peter Hezekiah Lawson (Sir Pee). The CEO of onlineproject.com.ng. A reputable researcher, Web Developer, ICT Instructor and a publisher of many research works in Education.