Theft plagues school toilets, handwashing facilities
Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) - November 14, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA,Philippines — A Department of Education (DepEd) executive has lamented that while they are achieving significant gains in an ambitious effort to install toilets and handwashing facilities in all public schools, they are also encountering new, disappointing problems.

Education Undersecretary for administration Alain Del Pascua said it started three years ago, when their Comprehensive Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Schools (WiNS) program was able to install gender-segregated toilets and handwashing facilities in thousands of public schools all over the country.

Pascua, however, said installing the toilets and handwashing facilities also bred new problems such as theft of faucets and cleaning up or maintenance of toilets and handwashing facilities.

“This has become a big problem for us, and I appeal to the communities: we established handwashing facilities in schools, we established water systems in schools, but sometimes we have to ‘imprison’ these system,” he said in a press briefing at the opening ceremonies of the 7th WASH in Schools International Learning exchange (WiNS-ILE) at the Crown Plaza Manila Galleria in Quezon City on Monday.

The problem, according to Pascua, has become so widespread that the DepEd wanted help in designing a faucet that could not be stolen or used in private homes or offices.

The executive said they have approached a group of industrial designers and even the Department of Agriculture regarding alternative faucets or “water droplet devices” that cannot be used outside schools.

“So we’re appealing to our communities: let all those facilities remain in schools. Don’t bring them home, because other students will be using them, the teachers will be using them and the community can also use them,” Pascua said.

For the ground floor building, you would notice that the toilets are inside the classroom, shared by two classrooms, there are segregated toilets there for boys and for girls. We use the funds for the building of classroom  in order to construct toilets inside the facilities. 

We could not build toilets outside of the bldg. Becuse that is not authorized by law.

But we were able to incorporate this to, creatively, through promulgation of special provisions in the General Appropriations Act. The same thing happened when it comes to water supply. there is no separate water supply fund, there’s no separate fund for digging of water source or even connection to water supply. So we incorporated that again in the building of facilities. So you will see, the buildings now, when we construct, there are handwashing facilities at the site. We cannot build separate structures, that is not authorized by Congress.

But Since we’re already building the buildings, then we creatively also proposed provisions  that the handwashing facilitiy be incorporated in the building of (school) buildings. So you can have the handwashing facilities on the side. So there’s no separate fund actually. But for the Last Mile school buildings, we have specifically proposed...that we will be building separate toilets, and separate water outlets, away from the classrooms, or not attached to the classrooms.

Now since the Last Mile schools program will be implemented by DepEd, we’ll make sure that the provisions there specifically that we can build the toilets outside, and we can build the water houses  outside so they can be incorporated ..It’s a new one, for the Last Mile school buildings, we made sure that these facilities will be incorporated in the development ..

Still, it is within the budget alloted for the Last Mile schoos. not a separate one specifically for water supply. or even for toilets, or even for handwashing. ...

They are incrporated in the last mile schools fund...

education facilites fund, pasokna yan lahat. We made it a standard whenever we start designing the schoolbuildings, the 1st floor, 2nd floor, 3rd floor, and even the four floor school buidlings.

Kasama na yan, incorporated na yan.

Dati , sad to say, may makikita kayong classtooms, meron water system, walang tubig. wala kang water pump sa baba, hindi aakyat ang tubig. We all know, that in order for the toilets to be finctional, we need water. sad to say, hindi yan nakita agad. But now, we’re trying to intervene, putting provisions in the General Appropriations Act that we need to tap the water source, not just construct the distribution system. Because if there’s no water source, there is no...the distribution system is useless. 

The tapping of the water source is either the deepwell, or you connect with the MWSS or the LWUA authorized system in the barangay or town. or either.

So that is what we are now propising, to have a motorized, or a solar powered water pump in schools if the water table there is low.

It would not, the water shortage issue ..falls to other agencies, especially the water agencies.

When it comes to schools, What we;re trying to do now, is for the schools to really tap the water source. ither through deepwell or through the connection with the existing water system if there is.

The basic problem that we have whenever ...

The schools are located where there are really far, or there is an absence of water system

with that, we have made several alternative rainwater collection. and another one is. we would like to undertake ..deepwell system if that is still possible. but the woudl really depend on how big is the water table.

With that, we will also be able to put up a water filtering system so that we can make those water potable for our children. I think we will be giving you several copies...

water connection,

Ang isang malaking problema namin ..and I appeal this to the communities. We extablished handwashing facilites in schools, we established water systems in schools but sometimes, we have to imprison these system. What we mean by imprison(ing) this system, we put chains. Nawawala ang mga faucets. This is one big problem we have in our schools. maglalagay ka ng handwashing facilities, magta-tap ka sa water source, may tubig ka na. may faucet ka na, after one week, wala na yung faucet mo. We are even going to the point of devising alternative water faucets.

na hindi magagamit sa bahay. 

We have to make some creative means of doing this. kasi nawawala palagi ang mga yan.

So we even tap designers coming from GI SEAD. ... and DA. to have those instead of the usual faucet that you can find at home or offices...devise  water droplet facilites na hindi mo magagamit talaga sa labas but only in schools. these are some of the difficulties and some of the shortcomings that we encounter in the field.

There’s even a policy where, if we will be implementing them, it will be so ridiculous that iur children will no longer be allowed to clean the toilet.

Insofar as, when we were young, and I hope all of us here that enetered in the public school system, we were asked to clean the toilet. every morning, every afternoon, and even at certain times of the day, as part of our manual labor, our manual task. 

But now, several sectros of  society are demanding that these are not child-friendly policies.

So we nee again to adjust on these kind of policies, whether we impose discipline, or if we have so much resources, then we hire maintenance people to do the cleaning of the toilet. We might have resoulted to the same system in the past, where everything in the school is part of the education of the children, and we..

It;s so sad to knowthat while we put facilities in the school, sudenly, or after a few days, these fcilites are stolen. 

Or, we don’t put guards in schools. Usually, we don;t put guards in schools. Now, we are forced to put guards in schools.

some facilites are stolen by not so responsive members of the communities. sometimes, we are...whenever we implement our programs, sometimes there are limitations. and there are several steps that we have to undertake. 

you visit all the schools.

most of our handwashing facilities, naka-rehas yan.

my kandado pa.

So we’re appealing to our facilities, let all those facilities remain in schools. dont bring them home, because other students will be using them. and the teachers will be using them. and the community can also use them.





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