Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hygiene 101 in schools

Hygiene 101 in schools

A student washes her hands as part of world WASH day in Phnom Penh
A student washes her hands as part of world WASH day in Phnom Penh. A new campaign aims to reduce deaths from diarrheal diseases by educating students in hand washing. Heng Chivoan

Hygiene 101 in schools

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport has launched a school hygiene and hand-washing campaign to help stymie Cambodia’s high rates of child mortality and malnutrition.

Hand washing can nearly halve the incidence of diarrheal disease, according to the campaign, a badly needed measure since annually more than 2,300 Cambodian children under five die from diarrhea.

“One of the cheapest and most effective ways to prevent child deaths is through washing hands,” said Sunah Kim, deputy country representative for UNICEF.

Last month, the Ministry of Education began disseminating recommendations for promoting hand washing and sanitation standards to school teachers and principals around the country. Educators are asked to ensure clean school facilities, sing songs in the classroom about hand washing and inform students of the importance of hand washing.

“Children in the rural provinces don’t have access to improved sanitation, and when they get sick from this, it affects their ability to study and they drop out of school,” said Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron.

Almost half of Cambodia’s public schools lack running water and nearly 70 per cent have no bathroom facilities.

“If a school has no water, no toilet, what can they do? They can set up a container of clean water … and soap. The teachers or the principal can use the national budget to subsidise this,” said Yung Kunthearith, deputy director of school health.

But some schools say they lack funds for toilets and hand-washing stations.

“Some schools do not want to pay for [facilities] on their own.… Three years ago, our school did not have a toilet,” said Och Nath, a teacher of Hun Sen Don Ton High School in Preah Vihea’s Chhep district. “But for the last two years, we have just one toilet for all the students.”

Government officials declined to give a timeline for the implementation of school sanitation facilities.

“Our goal is to have 100 per cent of schools with running water and toilets, but it is not possible to build them all at once,” Chuon Naron said.


  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all