India - The School Health Clubs Project in Kerala

Updated - Tuesday 11 April 2006

Snel, Marielle and Kochurani, Mathew (2004)

The primary objective of SEUF is to create awareness among the population about the value of water, the importance of handling it in a sanitary way and how to improve the sanitation and hygiene conditions of people in the project area. This ensures that people participate in rural water supply schemes. It was as a component of this objective that SEUF launched the School Health Club Programme in 1989. SEUF believes that children have more potential to affect changes in their families than their elders. The School Health Clubs are considered as complementary to other programmes in relation to the management of drinking water and sanitation. In the initial phases, activities were concentrated on classes V to VII (age group 10-12).Later the programme expanded to involve all classes.

Over a thousand School Health Clubs have been created. They have had success in changing behaviour in areas such as the following: children are using the toilet facilities in schools; they are aware of the need to wash their hands with soap or ash after defecation; children are influencing their parents to construct toilets and keep them clean. While behaviour is not yet changed in 100% of students, it is estimated to be between 50% and 80%. The SHCs help with the speedy construction of household latrines in the project area. A further monitoring and support stage of at least three years is crucial if the SHCs are to ensure that all children lead a healthy life at and outside school. Children can also act effectively as agents of change within their communities. Children have the ability to observe, learn and transfer knowledge more deftly than many adults. Teachers play a crucial role in making the SHC effective, so an effective plan for participatory training and retraining of teachers is crucial for the SHC sustainability.

The Panchayat institutions now responsible for education should take a stronger role in supporting the SHC activities and should co-ordinate various departments using a partnership approach. If support goes on for a sufficient length of time and acquired habits are consolidated into routine good practice, then the project can claim to have made a serious difference to health and well-being.

The case study was abstracted from: Snel, M. (2004), "THE WORTH OF SCHOOL SANITATION AND HYGIENE EDUCATION (SSHE)", IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, Delft, the Netherlands.


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