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American teacher takes the restroom to the classroom

Susan Notes:

In my recent visit to Seoul, which took me to a noted middle school, the principal told me he was surprised to learn that when a visiting committee asked students what changes they'd like to see, the number one suggestion was cleaner lavatories.

Keating is showing schools both in the U. S. and internationally could profit from his work at Project CLEAN


Mumbai: How often do school authorities ask students whether they̢۪re satisfied with the restrooms? Or teach children how to use a Western-style loo? Or ensure that the restrooms never run out of soap and towels?

That’s exactly what Dr Tom Keating, a US-based school restroom expert asked students, teachers and principals from a cross-section of schools in Mumbai last week. His visit to the schools, which was facilitated by Clean India Journal—a Mumbai-based magazine dealing with the cleaning industry—included visiting both municipal schools as well as upmarket private institutions such as Podar International School at Santa Cruz, Jamnabai Narsee School at Juhu and Hiranandani School, Powai. While he spoke to teachers at civic schools, at private schools he interacted with both students and teachers.

Surprisingly, Keating felt that there was scope for improvement of the toilets at all the schools that he visited. Keating’s method of assessment is simple—-he asked children to rate the loos at school.

"While all schools have paintings done by students adorning the walls and bulletin boards, do you ever see a sign on the wall telling you to flush the loo?" asks Keating. Despite the fact that going to the bathroom is a basic physical need, toilet hygiene is rarely discussed in school and there are no instructions on how to use the loo, says Keating. He adds that students often stand on a Western-style loo instead of sitting on it. He spoke to children on the need for team-work when it came to keeping the loos clean.

“When the loos aren’t clean and well-kept and students ‘hold it in’ all day; it not only affects them physically, but it also affects their concentration in the classroom,’’ he says. One of the things that impressed him about schools in Mumbai, though, was the absence of graffiti on the walls.

According to Keating, who has worked closely with a large number of schools in the US, his work involves “gaining the trust of principals, reviewing bathrooms and working with students’’.

Keating is in India for the World Toilet Summit in New Delhi, which begins on Monday. He will present a paper titled "Leading Children from Soap to Citizenship to Improve Wellness."

— Staff
(India) Times News Network


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