Yangchen C Rinzin

To ensure children have access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) when they return to school, Save the Children Bhutan Office provided materials worth Nu 1.4 million (M) to the education ministry yesterday.

The materials include hand sanitisers, soaps, and wash stations designed by Bhutan Toilet Organisation with water tank and tap.

It would be delivered to 40 schools, four youth centres, five early childhood care and development (ECCD) centres, two extended classrooms, and two community centres in 14 dzongkhags and three thromdes.

The officiating education secretary, Karma Tshering, said that although schools are closed right now, it is the right time to install and keep everything ready since the focus is on the preventive measures.

He said the ministry, as a part of preventive measures, collected data from schools immediately after Covid-19 was first detected in the country. “It was found that 20 schools did not have basic hand washing facilities and they wanted to do something to ensure such critical facility is provided in these schools and Save the Children came forward to support.”

Education officials say 33 vulnerable schools were also identified, especially those located in the southern foothills to supply wash stations.

With this, wash station will benefit 24,906 students where 115 wash station, 7,850 soaps, and 455 sanitisers would be provided in the schools.

Meanwhile, reporting and user guidelines for emergency WASH materials for Covid-19 preparedness were also provided with the materials.

The officiating secretary also said that the ministry is looking forward to complete producing 500 episodes by April 10 for tele-education currently aired on BBS every day.

“We’re also looking into the possibility of reaching out students in rural areas who have limited access to online education,” Karma Tshering said. “We’re planning to publish what we covered until now through print media.”

He said they are currently developing self-instruction materials. “The ministry is also working to provide different programme or engage children with disabilities including non-formal education.”

Save the Children’s national director, MB Ghaley, said that in addition to the emergency WASH material support, Save the Children will also support the education ministry to carry out children’s remote or home-based learning.

“This is a part of continuing education in emergency plan in response to the current Covid-19 pandemic,” he said. “We will be providing financial support worth Nu 4.2M.”

The financial support will be used in the development of content for teaching-learning sessions in all the five key stages of learning. It will be also used to procure stationery and other required teaching and learning materials to support development of learning content.