DepEd-ARMM highlights handwashing habit formation on global celebration day
Cotabato City (October 13, 2016) – The Department of Education of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DepEd-ARMM) highlighted the importance of developing the habit of handwashing with soap during the Global Handwashing Day observed on Wednesday, October 12.
Dr. John Magno, DepEd-ARMM secretary, said the Education department is committed in ensuring that “every child in the region develops healthy habits that start with simple steps like daily handwashing with soap.”
The DepEd-ARMM, together with the Australian embassy’s Basic Education Assistance to Muslim Mindanao (BEAM)-ARMM program, marked the 5th Global Handwashing Day at Timanan Central Elementary School in South Upi, Maguindanao.
“Handwashing with soap is the low-cost high-impact intervention that, when practiced properly and regularly, prevents infections and saves lives,” Sec. Magno noted.
The handwashing day bears the theme “Make handwashing a habit”, and was aimed at highlighting the importance of developing healthy habits that help prevent the occurrence of hygiene-related illnesses among children.
Official records show that nine percent of childhood deaths are caused by diarrheal diseases and almost half of these deaths could be prevented through handwashing with soap.
Since 2011, the ARMM government, specifically DepEd-ARMM, together with nongovernmental organizations, has been implementing Essential Health Care Program in 400 schools across the region. The initiative focuses on daily group handwashing with soap, daily group toothbrushing with fluoride toothpaste, and bi-annual de-worming.
Ester Roxas of the Australian embassy underscored the importance of schools in forming healthy habits among schoolchildren. “The education system is central to habit formation and the school provides the perfect setting for this formation,” Roxas said.
The Australian embassy official commended the DepEd-ARMM, mentioning it has taken the lead in the Philippines to ensure that the children of ARMM have daily activities to develop healthy habits.
“With so many children practicing handwashing together each day, ARMM is setting an example to the rest of the country,” Roxas added.
The DepEd-ARMM has developed the Three Star Approach, wherein schools, with the participation of the community, are encouraged to improve their ‘WinS’ or water, sanitation, and hygiene in schools.
The WinS includes the implementation of daily group handwashing with soap, daily group toothbrushing with fluoride toothpaste, and bi-annual de-worming.
Through the DepEd ARMM’s Three Star Approach’s WinS monitoring, school heads are taking the lead to ensure that all classrooms practice healthy habits.
A flag was raised at the Timanan Central Elementary School during the program to signify the school’s compliance with the Three Stars accreditation requirements. Timanan Central Elementary School, which is under the Maguindanao I Schools Division, was the first awardee of the WinS Three Stars in the ARMM.
The DepEd-ARMM is presently producing 1,000 group washing facilities to ensure that each school has the infrastructure needed to allow children to practice daily handwashing.
The region’s Education department covers nine schools divisions namely, Maguindanao I and II, Marawi City, Lanao Sur I and II, Lamitan City, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi. As of the latest data, there are 2,150 public elementary schools, and 304 secondary schools in the ARMM. (Bureau of Public Information)
Photo Credit: Basic Education Assistance to Muslim Mindanao (BEAM)-ARMM