Pupils in Medan, Indonesia, practice handwashing in class

School hygiene or school hygiene education is a healthcare science, a form of the wider school health education. The primary aims of school hygiene education is to improve behavior through useful practices connected to personal, water, food, domestic and public hygiene.[1] Also, it aims to protect water and food supplies and to safely manage environmental factors.[citation needed]

History of school hygiene

School hygiene expert Fletcher B. Dresslar explained in his 1915 work School Hygiene that “School Hygiene is the branch of this science [hygiene] which has to do with the conservation and development of the health of school children.”[2] The school was looked upon as existing “not only for the welfare of each child in attendance, but also for the welfare of the state and the nation.”[3] Dresslar broke school hygiene up into two essential parts: “the physical environment of the child during his school life” and “the laws of mental hygiene as illustrated by the proper adjustment of the subjects of the curriculum to the mental powers and needs of the children.”[4][5]

School hygiene as a major discipline was at its zenith in the United States and England in the late 19th and early 20th century, with major works of the subject being offered by various authors, among them Sir Arthur Newsholme,[6] Edward R. Shaw,[7] Robert A. Lyster,[8] and G.G. Groff.[9] After this time period, the school hygiene discipline became part of a comprehensive look at school health education; the American School Hygiene Association became inactive, and the American School Health Association was founded. Exclusive focus on hygiene was no longer prominent.[10]

School hygiene still appears to be an active, separate discipline in other parts of the world, like Eastern Europe[11][12] and developing countries where school sanitation norms are not as well established.[1]

School environment

Secondary school main building in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, England.

Schools can determine children's health and well-being by their exposure to a healthy or unhealthy school environment.[13] There are a lot of architectural and aesthetic aspects related to a school's hygienic needs, such as: the school's building plan, safe water supply, disposal of waste, emergency lighting, heating and ventilation, as well as adequate school facilities (halls, classrooms, and common areas) and furniture.[citation needed]

School location

Due to health reasons (influence of noise, exhaust gases from vehicles, and potential risk of accident), schools in an urban and peri-urban areas should be located more than ers away from major traffic and causeways.[11] Some studies suggest it is best to orient and design a school building so that natural light can be a part of the lighting scheme of the school, and that buildings should avoid being placed in a valley, due to air quality issues.[11]

Water supply within the school environment is a critical part of school-based WASH interventions aimed at combating the rate of diarrheal diseases among pupils. Pupils who attend schools with inadequate water supply (in which there are no water sources within a 1 km radius during the dry season) that receive WASH interventions (including water-supply and water treatment improvements, hygiene promotion and sanitation improvements) usually experience a reduction in diarrheal incidences.[spelling?][14]

Importance of school hygiene

Schools have a central place in the health of a community. Inappropriate hygiene in schools can cause many diseases. If there are no school sanitation and hygiene facilities, or if they aren't maintained and used adequately, schools become places where diseases are likely to be transmitted.[1]

Diseases associated with inadequate water supply and poor sanitation and hygiene are especially common within developing countries. Most diarrheal diseases in these areas are caused by inadequate and unsafe water supply and poor sanitation and hygiene facilities.[15] Children who have adequate water, sanitation and hygiene facilities at school are more able to integrate hygiene education in their daily lives and are effective behavior change communicators' in their communities. While, communities whose school children have been exposed to disease risk due to inadequate supply of water, sanitation and hygiene services are more at risk. Families are left to bear the burden of their children's illness due to bad conditions at school.[16]

Improved school WASH conditions help to improve student's school attendance, most importantly inclusive WASH for girls who are menstruating and reducing the transmission of illnesses greatly helps boost school attendance.[17] Evidence has also shown that improved hand-washing with soap at school can reduce illness in school going children, ultimately leading to the reduction of absenteeism from school.[18]

Children with disabilities irrespective of gender, are likely to be affected more than their able bodied counterparts by inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene conditions in schools, a major contributing factor to inequality in learning opportunities. Lack of adequate, separate toilets that offer privacy, security and washing facilities may discourage parents from sending vulnerable children (children with disabilities and girls) to school.[19]

From a human rights perspective, WASH in schools is considered to be important. Having access to WASH facilities and hygiene behavior change education in schools contributes to inclusion, dignity, and equity. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) particularly highlight the need to expand WASH interventions beyond the household setting, in the effort to achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water, sanitation and hygiene for all.[20]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "A Manual on School Sanitation and Hygiene" (PDF). unicef.org. UNICEF/Programme Division. September 1998. pp. 3–4. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
  2. ^ Dresslar, Fletcher B. (1913). School hygiene. New York: The MacMillan Company. p. 1. school hygiene.
  3. ^ Dresslar, Fletcher B. (1913). School hygiene. New York: The MacMillan Company. p. 2. school hygiene.
  4. ^ Dresslar, Fletcher B. (1913). School hygiene. New York: The MacMillan Company. p. 3. school hygiene.
  5. ^ Meckel, Richard (2013). Classrooms and Clinics: Urban Schools and the Protection and Promotion of Child Health, 1870-1930. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. ISBN 978-0-8135-6239-1.
  6. ^ Newsholme, Arthur (1898). School hygiene: the laws of health in relation to school life. London: Swan Sonnenschein and Co. school hygiene.
  7. ^ Shaw, Edward R. (1902). School hygiene. New York: The MacMillan Company. school hygiene.
  8. ^ Lyster, Robert A. (1907). School hygiene. Baltimore, MD: Warwick and York.
  9. ^ Groff, G.G. (1889). School hygiene. New York: E.L. Kellogg and Co. school hygiene.
  10. ^ Engs, Ruth C. (2003). The progressive era's health reform movement: a historical dictionary. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers. pp. 20–22. ISBN 9780275979324.
  11. ^ a b c Nikolić, Mihajlo; Radojka Kocijančić; Marija Pecelj-Gec; Vida Parezanović (1994). "7". In Jovanović Mirjana (ed.). Higijena sa zdravstvenim vaspitanjem. Vol. 1 (fourth ed.). Zavod za udžbenike i nastavna sredstva. pp. 69–72. ISBN 86-17-02931-5.
  12. ^ Zaba, R.; Bukartyk-Rusek, B. (2002). "School hygiene in the past, present and future--in the opinion of the Inspector of Pediatrics and School Medicine and member of the European Society for Social Pediatrics (ESSOP)". Wiad Lek. NIH. 55: 615–619. PMID 15002312.
  13. ^ "Water, Sanitation and Hygiene". unicef.org. UNICEF Unite for children. 19 July 2010. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
  14. ^ Freeman, M. C.; Clasen, T.; Dreibelbis, R.; Saboori, S.; Greene, L. E.; Brumback, B.; Muga, R.; Rheingans, R. (February 2014). "The impact of a school-based water supply and treatment, hygiene, and sanitation programme on pupil diarrhoea: a cluster-randomized trial". Epidemiology & Infection. 142 (2): 340–351. doi:10.1017/S0950268813001118. ISSN 0950-2688. PMC 9151148. PMID 23702047.
  15. ^ "WHO | Water, sanitation and hygiene links to health". WHO. Retrieved 2020-10-26.
  16. ^ Organization, World Health (2009). Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Standards for Schools in Low-cost Settings. World Health Organization. ISBN 978-92-4-154779-6.
  17. ^ PEARSON, JOANNA; MCPHEDRAN, KATE (2008). "A literature review of the non-health impacts of sanitation". Waterlines. 27 (1): 48–61. doi:10.3362/1756-3488.2008.005. ISSN 0262-8104. JSTOR 24684955.
  18. ^ Bowen, Anna; Ma, Huilai; Ou, Jianming; Billhimer, Ward; Long, Timothy; Mintz, Eric; Hoekstra, Robert M.; Luby, Stephen (2007-06-01). "A Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial Evaluating the Effect of a Handwashing-Promotion Program in Chinese Primary Schools". The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. 76 (6): 1166–1173. doi:10.4269/ajtmh.2007.76.1166. ISSN 0002-9637. PMID 17556631.
  19. ^ World Health Organization (WHO) (2009). "Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Standards for schools in Low-cost settings" (PDF). ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  20. ^ McMichael, Celia (February 2019). "Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Schools in Low-Income Countries: A Review of Evidence of Impact". International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 16 (3): 359. doi:10.3390/ijerph16030359. ISSN 1661-7827. PMC 6388361. PMID 30696023.