La Playa teachers: Does Having a Bathroom Affect Education?

Dayana Julio begins her journey shortly before dawn. She takes a bus and a motorcar to travel 30 kilometers to the community school La Cangrejera, located in La Playa, where you work. Gustavo Villalba, her partner, takes ten minutes to arrive, as he lives close to the community. Both belong to the UNICEF Back-to-School program, which seeks to improve the living conditions of native and migrant students in the country.

Their routine varies little: they must be fully delivered to teach, first on the morning day to boys and girls between 6 and 9 years, and in the afternoon, until 13. For them in the early years of life, the foundations of learning of minors are based; if it is true, development and brain growth take place quickly at this stage.

Today we are gathered to meet Sustainable Development Goal 4, which guarantees inclusive and quality education for all by 2030, a goal that cannot be achieved without teachers or infrastructure. In La Cangrejera, we arrive with the aim of installing two bathrooms for children, articulating to the education system the necessary conditions for learning in the classroom.

Underlying conditions in educational infrastructure

Educating at La Cangrejera involves being in the same group with the integration of children of different levels, nationalities, and with cognitive, mature, or autistic problems. In these groups, «normalized» external factors affect their performance: family nuclei with separated parents living under the same roof; share 6m2 room with three sick brothers or grandparents; families of large members in the same household; houses without bathrooms, no drinking water, no energy.

According to the University of the North Education Observatory (2016), nearly 16,900 students leave the school system annually in the Atlantic. The desert rate reaches 3.21% within the national percentage. According to UNESCO, in Latin America, the drop-out rate is 17%, intensifying in rural areas.

In this respect, the physical conditions of school buildings affect completion rates, cycle completion, and increased enrolment. That is why it is essential that when educating, infrastructure has water sources, basic sanitation, and hygiene, as they play a crucial role in accessing education and learning outcomes.

The Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) study in schools indicates, first, that water supply provides well-being in personal and environmental hygiene, as well as moisturizes the body allowing the development of the student’s cognitive abilities. Globally, only 69% of schools have basic water service, while 12% offer limited service, and 19% do not have the facility or turn to unprotected wells or fountains. If we translate it in numbers of children who do not have the liquid supply, 570 million children do not have access to safe drinking water.

The study also notes that school bathrooms impact school attendence and children’s health. However, educational institutions must have sex-separated toilets, as the lack of these has a negative impact on girls’ safety and health, preventing in most cases the exercise of their right to equal access to education. The Crab today has separate dry bathrooms, 40 children trained in their use and care, and Water Guardians willing to maintain them. It is also part of 66% of schools equipped with adequate facilities around the world. Unfortunately, 23% of schools do not have sanitation services or resort to good latrines or bucket latrines, unsafe facilities for defecation.

Overall, while one-third of schools do not have adequate drinking water supplies and toilets, half do not guarantee children’s hygiene due to lack of soap and water. Not having facilities that have hygiene systems within institutions can cause diseases such as erythema, lice, thrush, cavities, or worms in the intestine.

From Tierra Grata, we put a seed that we will see germinate over time. La Cangrejera may be a community abandoned by institutions, but it is open doors for social interventions. At its heart, there is a fort that treasures a school of various colors. There is shelter the right to an education that children and adolescents deserve, with teachers trained for their care and learning and with optimal sanitation and hygiene facilities for their use.

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