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.


  • Proof giants walked among us humans?

    For years a debate has waged about whether certain bas relief carvings at the 12th-century To Prohm Temple, one of the most popular attractions at the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Siem Reap province, depicted dinosaurs or some rather less exotic and more contemporary animal,

  • Japan bank buys major stake in ANZ Royal Bank

    Japan's largest bank acquired more than half of ANZ’s shares in Cambodia on Thursday, according to a statement from Kith Meng’s Royal Group. Japan's JTrust Bank, announced that they had acquired a 55% of stake in ANZ Royal Bank. According to a Royal Group

  • Long way to go before Cambodia gets a ‘smart city’

    Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang will struggle to attain smart city status without adopting far reaching master plans, according to officials tasked with implementing the program. The brainchild of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the smart city program seeks to link up

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty