Here in the UK, clean water and good toilet and hygiene practices are pretty much taken for granted in schools. But in many southern countries, dirty water, inadequate – or complete absence of – toilets and soap all contribute to children falling ill and missing school.
Septic tanks frequently overspill onto the street and flow back into the riverbeds which are drying out due to the expansion of communities in the north. As a result, most schools we spoke to have experienced water shortage within the last year.
In September the Water Schools team participated in the national convention of the Catholic Education Association in the Philippines (CEAP), “A Heart for Eden, A Hand at Ecology”. ARC’s Nicki McHugh, Sister Mary Bellekom and Lia Otterspeer, EMF, went to Cebu to tell more than 2,000 delegates about our work and invite them to get involved.
Although water conservation is not a criteria on the national curriculum, when we visited a Catholic school we found that they were one of many eager to find sustainable solutions to issues of pollution and water supply.
Many already organise conservation groups and eco-clubs to clean up the streets of Cebu, recycle and plant trees.
Unsurprisingly, when they found out about the Water Schools programme, their reaction was overwhelmingly positive. They were keen to discover accessible new materials to help them teach, including online resources.
· Would your school be interested in sharing information on water and ecology with them?
· Might you like to run a class at your own school on the water difficulties faced in a school in South-East Asia?
· How do you celebrate water and your faith in your curriculum? We learnt about the celebrated El Santo Nino de Cebu and how the Spanish brought Christianity to the island of Cebu in the 16th century.
Your help would be appreciated by so many.