Building capacity on school health, climate change and resilience building

The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MoPSE) recently held a Training of Trainers (ToT) on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), disaster risk reduction (DRR), climate change and resilience workshop for 6 districts, namely Binga, Chipinge, Chiredzi, Gokwe North, Gokwe South and Mwenezi. The workshop’s objectives were in line with the long term capacity development plan by the Ministry to build capacity of personnel on WASH, DRR, climate change and resilience and increase knowledge on hygiene practices and menstrual hygiene management. This capacity development is envisaged to improved preparedness and capacity to respond to humanitarian situations, reduce incidents of WASH related diseases and also improve teacher and learners understanding on hygiene and healthy practice. Expertise to build resilience and increase schools and school communities’ capacity for disaster preparedness and response, will be drawn for multi stakeholders bringing together various MoPSE departments, Ministry of Health and Child Care, Department of Civil Protection and development partners such as United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Disasters often lead to destruction of learning facilities and materials, disruption of education, increased barriers to education, limited access to schooling, and decreased education quality which all compromise the learning outcomes of learners. The effects of disasters have a negative impact on the education system as they affect the performance of learners and their lives. A disaster, whether resulting from natural or man-made hazards, can therefore obliterate hard-won educational achievements and slow the development of an education system. The Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP) 2016-2020, emphasizes DRR as a cross cutting issue and the need to increase awareness and build more understanding and resilience to disasters at school, community ,district, provincial and national levels.

Furthermore, WASH education in schools ensures the use of safe drinking water, improves sanitation facilities, promotes lifelong health, provides clean learning environments and enhances the wellbeing of children. Learning from the 2008 Cholera outbreak that cost over 4,000 lives in Zimbabwe, it is believed that children are suitable “change agents”. Learners have the potential to promote health and hygiene behaviours they learn in school at home. Hence if children are taught on hygiene practices such as washing of hands after using the toilet and before eating; they will practice the same at home thereby promoting good hygiene practices in the community.