Educating girls goes way beyond the classroom! Do It In A Dress is all about raising money to educate girls in Africa, but that doesn’t just stop once you get a girl into the classroom.
It turns out that arriving in the classroom is just the first step in a girl’s education. Once she’s there, there are some critical factors that massively impact her ability to thrive and one of the most significant is toilets. That’s right – toilets. We’ve discovered that poor or non-existent toilet facilities and hygiene practices is one of the most significant obstacles girls face as they strive to make the most of their education.
In Sierra Leone over 93% of schools don’t have access to adequate toilet or water facilities. Kadiatu goes to a school in rural Sierra Leone. Up until recently, her school had 1000 students and only four toilets. We won’t go into all the gory details – but you probably have an idea of wait times, odours, and general cleanliness issues that can help you appreciate the situation students were dealing with everyday.
Now imagine how hard it must have been for girls experiencing their periods and disposing of pads when toilets were in that condition. It’s no wonder so many of them ended up staying home when they got their period! And of course when they stay home at least a couple of days a month, every month, you can see how a lack of toilets would have a long term negative impact on a girl’s education.
So we worked with a local partner and two communities in Sierra Leone to build school toilets and water facilities to ensure students were trained in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) to make sure they had every opportunity to stay in the classroom!
The results have been amazing. Students can’t believe how much better the new conditions are, how much healthier they are and how much more they enjoy being at school.
Kadiatu says, “Before they taught us about sanitation at school I used to just drink the water from the well. Now I put a chemical in it to make it safe to drink, it means I am getting sick less.”
So next time you pull on your school dress, you’ll know that you are not just helping more girls get back into school, but massively increasing their day-to-day health, happiness and ability to make the most of their education.