Life skills-based hygiene education

Updated - Tuesday 04 October 2011

Postma, Leonie; Getkate, Renate and van Wijk, Christine (2004)

Children are eager to learn and schools are important places of learning for children. Promotion of personal hygiene and environmental sanitation in schools therefore helps children to adopt good habits during their formative childhood. What children learn in school they can and often do pass on in their families and communities, both at the time of learning and during their lives as parents and grandparents.

However, the learning potential of many children and adolescents is compromised by conditions and behaviours that undermine the physical and emotional well-being that makes learning possible. In many countries, schools are some of the most crowded places. These conditions facilitate the spreading of micro-organisms that cause diseases. When water, sanitation and hygiene conditions are poor, instead of safeguarding children from the transmission of infectious diseases, school environments are full of health hazards. Hence, education on health and hygiene has to go hand in hand with physically safe and well-kept hygiene facilities to make schools safe places for children’s development.

Safe and hygienic schools and effective education require the participation of community members, parents, teachers and above all children. At all ages, children and adolescents can be engaged actively in learning experiences that enable them to practise basic hygiene and sanitation and advocate for it at home and in their community. It is also important to focus on children because they are the parents of the future. Life skills-based hygiene education can help to create effective education and hygienic schools by giving children not only knowledge but also attitudes and skills for coping with life (hence the term life skills). Part of this coping is in water, sanitation and hygiene and includes the learning of practical hygiene skills. Life skills-based hygiene education helps children to change behaviour and so reduce risks and prevent water and sanitation related diseases. Teaching children through life skills-based hygiene education materials involves the use of interactive and participatory methods with room for information-focused sessions and child-centred sessions.

This document contains an overview of life skills-based education in general and the development of life skills-based hygiene education materials in school sanitation and hygiene education programmes in particular. Its focus is life skills-based sanitation and hygiene education for primary school children. As there are many adolescents in primary schools in developing countries, the age groups covered are from 6 to 14 years.

The main envisaged users are government policy makers and decision makers and members of international organisations and non-governmental institutions involved in school sanitation and hygiene education programmes. In more general terms, the document is meant for everyone interested in initiating and strengthening life skills-based hygiene education as their approach to hygiene education in and around schools.

The book is divided into three sections:

  • Section 1 gives a general introduction to life skills-based hygiene education.
  • Section 2 gives a general overview of the content of life skills-based hygiene education.
  • Section 3 provides a set of examples of lesson plans for life skills-based hygiene education.

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TP42_life_skills.pdf (737.4 kB)
ISBN 978-90-6687-045-1
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TP 42-E