The Toilets Making the Grade® school competition has entered a new round! The competition has already started in Pakistan in December last year and will begin in Uganda in February and in Colombia in August.
But what is the Toilets Making the Grade® school competition?
It is a school competition where every participant is a winner. First launched by the German Toilet Organisation (GTO), it has been running in Germany since 2012 to encourage schools to think about simple steps to improve school sanitation with minimal external input. After its great success in Germany, GIZ's Sanitation for Millions programme, a global programme improving access to safe sanitation and hygiene especially for vulnerable groups in Colombia, Jordan, Uganda and Pakistan has adapted the school competition. Since 2018 the Toilets Making the Grade® competition has successfully been implemented in Uganda and Pakistan in partnership with the German Toilet Organisation (GTO), and will run it for the first time in Colombia this year. This shows that it can be adapted to a variety of settings, from high- to low-income countries.
"Through Toilets Making the Grade, head teachers have been empowered and guided to appreciate that there are so many things that they can do at their level given the meagre resources they have. There has been general improvement in sanitation in the schools; toilets are now cleaner. There have been efforts in adherence to the operation and maintenance of these facilities. Schools can now make minor improvements on their own."
David Esiku - Manager of Education Services in Directorate of Education and Social Services, Uganda
How does the competition work?
The competition is designed to encourage teamwork between management, administration, parents, students and maintenance staff that will continue long after the competition is over. Ideally, the competition is run by the government, which benefits from a fresh perspective on school WASH through the preparation and judging process.
After registering, usually with the local government education office, participating teams receive an inspirational pack with clear step-by-step instructions and guidelines on how to create a common understanding of sanitation challenges in their schools, such as cleanliness and maintenance, and how everyone in the school can work together to improve the current situation. Sanitation for Millions will also conduct training sessions for schools to facilitate this process before the proposals are submitted. Schools will then form teams and brainstorm solutions to the sanitation challenges they have identified, such as improvement, beautification, awareness raising, and organisation of matters and responsibilities.
After developing the proposals, schools will submit their proposal and implement their ideas as a team. The proposal and implementation will then be evaluated by trained judges based on the WinS Three Star Monitoring exercise. The school with the best ideas and most effective improvements wins the competition. It's as simple as that.
Don't think it's that easy? Here is a step-by-step breakdown of the process of the competition in Uganda.
The length of each competition varies by country and school terms. In Uganda, the competition usually starts in February and runs until November, while in Pakistan the competition started in December and ends in April with the final awards ceremony.
Many of the solutions of the schools focus on the operation and maintenance of school WASH facilities, such as blocked toilet pipes or the provision of soap, and a coherent approach including the financing of activities. But rather than just improving the sanitation situation in the winning schools, the competition promotes a shared awareness of the importance of sanitation and hygiene among all school stakeholders and the general public, and motivates self-improvement to make school toilets a more pleasant place to use.
It's a fun and creative way to improve sanitary facilities, protect infrastructure investments through better use and maintenance, easing the financial burden on local authorities and create a better learning environment for students.
"Toilets Making the Grade has enabled many of the schools in Apac to come up with small operation and maintenance budgets to address their hygiene issues and sanitation improvement in the schools. Schools were able to come up with committees that brought the pupils, parents, teachers, School Management Committees that are responsible for pupils' hygiene situation. These committees have been able to solve sanitation issues in the schools."
Akello Molly Grace – Ag. Municipal inspector of schools of Apac Municipal Council, Uganda
The new round of the school competition began in Pakistan last December with a launching ceremony, followed by an orientation for participating schools and jury members on the overall process and implementation, and the definition of their roles. Schools submitted their final proposals in mid-January, which will then be evaluated and monitored. In April, the best proposals will be awarded in a big ceremony.
The Toilets Making the Grade competition has proven to be adaptable in a wide range of settings, from high to low income countries and in a variety of cultural backgrounds. The aim of the school competition is to enable it to be replicated in other settings. For more information on the implementation and technical aspects of the competition visit: https://www.toilets-making-the-grade.org/en/
More of a visual person? Take a look at the competition in this video.
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