Sanitation and water supply in schools and girls' educational progression in Zambia (a study with over 10,000 schools)

  • pharvey
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WASH in schools and girls' educational progression

Dear All,

The following article has been published recently in the Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development:

Sanitation and water supply in schools and girls' educational progression in Zambia

washdev.iwaponline.com/content/8/1/53

Abstract

There is much anecdotal evidence related to the importance of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in schools for girls' educational progression, yet a lack of comprehensive quantitative studies on linkages between WASH and educational indicators disaggregated by gender and grade. This paper aims to fill that gap by testing the hypothesis that the presence of water and sanitation facilities in schools can increase female-to-male enrolment ratios and reduce repetition and drop-out-ratios for girls, especially at ages when they menstruate. Quantitative analyses were undertaken of Education Management Information System (EMIS) data collected from over 10,000 schools in Zambia, to explore relationships between WASH facility provision in schools and enrolment, repetition and drop-out ratios disaggregated by gender and grade. Results indicated that improved sanitation provision in schools was correlated with high female-to-male enrolment ratios, and reduced repetition and drop-out ratios, especially for girls. A t-test revealed significant gender differences in grades 5–8 when many girls start to experience their menstrual cycle. Improved water supply in schools, however, did not reveal the same relationship. The findings confirm possible linkages between adequate toilets in schools and educational progression of girls.
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  • muench
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Re: WASH in schools and girls' educational progression

Dear Peter,

Thanks a lot for post about this very important research here.

What's your hypothesis why "Improved water supply in schools, however, did not reveal the same relationship."? It's interesting that you were able to distinguish between sanitation and water supply at schools, and study their effects on female-to-male enrolment ratios, repetition and drop-out-ratios for girls separately. This seems to indicate that health aspects were not the primary factors for e.g. drop-out-ratios.

What did you find as the main reasons for drop-out-ratios for girls? Was it really the missing toilets when they reach puberty and start menstruation?

And your paper is so interesting but behind a paywall. Could you post it here for a short while (like a week) to allow interested people to download it, and then take it off again? Or maybe you have a detailed powerpoint presentation that you could share here instead?

I have by the way taken two key sentences from the paper's abstract and inserted the information into the Wikipedia article on WASH, see here:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WASH#In_schools

Data from over 10,000 schools in Zambia was analysed in 2017 and confirmed that improved sanitation provision in schools was correlated with high female-to-male enrolment ratios, and reduced repetition and drop-out ratios, especially for girls.[29] The study thus confirmed the linkages between adequate toilets in schools and educational progression of girls.[29]


Is that good like this? It will give your article a bit more exposure. The WASH article on Wikipedia gets about 200 views per day, with a slowly rising tendency in parallel to our work on expanding and improving it.

Regards,
Elisabeth

Community manager and chief moderator of this forum via SEI project ( www.susana.org/en/resources/projects/details/127 )

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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  • pharvey
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Re: WASH in schools and girls' educational progression

Dear Elisabeth,

Many thanks for your comments and questions.

We believe that the main reason that improved water supply in schools did not reveal the same relationship as sanitation, is that the privacy and dignity that sanitation facilities provide have a more direct relationship with menstrual hygiene management. While water is also essential for good MHM, it may have little difference in terms of whether the water is from an improved source on premises or brought from elsewhere.

The paper does not prove causality between poor sanitation and girls dropping out of school, however, it does show that schools with poor sanitation are more likely to have worse educational indicators for girls.

A more detailed open-access paper exploring the gender differences related to WASH in schools can be found at:
www.water-alternatives.org/index.php/all...11issue2/437-a11-2-4

Best regards,
Peter
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