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Best school sanitation practices in the Philippines recognized at the first Eskwelang Unstoppable Awards in celebration of the World Toilet Day

The first ever Eskwelang Unstoppable Awards was held last November 15 in celebration of this year’s World Toilet Day. Eskwelang Unstoppable Awards is a partnership between the Department of Education (DepEd) and Unilever, in close collaboration with GIZ, to recognize the best school sanitation practices all over the country. The initiative aims to incentivize schools and divisions for successfully implementing the WASH in Schools (WinS) program, with a particular focus on sanitation. DepEd’s implementation of WinS program in the country adopted the Three-Star Approach of monitoring, in which sanitation is a key component of. Winners were chosen based on their scores in specific sanitation indicators using the monitoring criteria. The school division with the highest score was awarded, as well as the top performing schools within the winning division. The school division with the highest increase of WinS monitoring score from the previous school year was also recognized. The Schools Division Office of Navotas took home the Best Division Award while Bislig City Schools Division Office from Surigao del Sur won the Most Improved Division Award. The Best SDO-Model School Award went to Bangkulasi Elementary School, Dagat-Dagatan Elementary School, Navotas Elementary School, Filemon T. Lizan Senior High School, and Bangkulasi Senior High School.

This initiative aims to inspire all schools in the country to continuously improve their sanitation management and provide all students with a healthy and safe learning environment. It also promotes participation in the Three Star Approach monitoring system of all schools in the country. The monitoring dashboard plays a very vital role to track the schools’ progress in WinS, identify the gaps, and formulate solutions to address the challenges. The latest monitoring results show that there was an increase in the number of participating schools from 65.6% in SY 2017/18 to 92.9% in SY 2020/21 which suggests that more schools are recognizing the importance of WinS.

The awarding ceremony was held in celebration of World Toilet Day, which is an annual event that aims to mainstream the importance of safely managed toilets. Globally, there are about 3.6 billion people who are still living with poor sanitation conditions. Meanwhile, in the school setting, over 500 million students have inadequate access to proper sanitation services at their school. The goal to provide basic water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services in schools is part of the target of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 which aims to provide quality education for all in an inclusive, safe, and healthy learning environment.

Through the Regional Fit for School program, GIZ supports Ministries of Education across the region in promoting guidelines for clean, safe, functional, and accessible sanitation facilities. Learn more about how to maintain and improve the usability of toilets in schools here WASH in Schools Operation & Maintenance Manual | Fit for School.