The Coalition of Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) yesterday petitioned the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) on the lack of (Water, Sanitaion and Hygiene) WASH facilities with changing rooms in both public and private schools.
According to the group, 'when children are in school and have no water to drink, no toilets to empty their bowels and no water to wash their hands, their health and wellbeing are compromised and their life equally threatened'.
Mr Yaw Attah Arhin, CONIWAS Chairman who presented the petition to CHRAJ in Accra said the coalition under its Rights to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene services advocacy project study in 2020 revealed 25 per cent (5,471) of public basic schools lacked access to safe drinking water, 26 per cent (5,725) did not have toilet facilities, while 31 per cent (6,843) lacked access to urinals.
In private basic schools, he stated that the situation was better, 17 per cent (1,966) lacked access to safe drinking water, 11 per cent (1,273) did not have access to toilet facilities, while 16 per cent (1,840) had no urinals.
"Research reveals that the lack of access to these basic school infrastructure promotes absenteeism, truancy, loss of teaching and learning time, and generally poor academic performance adding that some public basic school infrastructure which were recently constructed are without safe drinking water, toilet facilities and urinals.
Indeed, 9 out of 10 girls in Ghana regularly miss school during their menstrual periods"
Part of the petition read; "It is our considered opinion and belief as a coalition that this is at the core of the right to education and dignity. The lack of access to these basic facilities therefore violates the foundational human right to education and dignity of these thousands of children who are affected by this unfortunate situation," he stated.
In that regard they demand from the Commission further investigations to know the number of public and private basic schools without access to safe drinking water, toilet facilities and urinals.
"Again widen its scope to include Senior High Schools and tertiary institutions as it may deem it fit, take all legally necessary steps to ensure that appropriate state agencies including Ministry of Education, Ghana Education Service and MMDAs collaborate to provide safe drinking water, improved toilet facilities and urinals in all public and private basic schools within acceptable timelines."
"Also, a declaration that no new public or private basic school infrastructure may be constructed without access to safe drinking water, improved toilet facilities and urinals," the petition stated.
It added that "That they said would make the school environment conducive for girls who have reached the age of puberty, and to ensure that menstruating girls do not miss school, all school toilet facilities should have changing rooms for girls."