Results from the field: Fresher, healthier kids in Mukuru!
We are super excited about the way our partnership with Oxfam has been realized in the community. Since partnering with Oxfam we have installed a grand total of 38 Fresh Life Toilets in 14 schools. These Fresh Life Toilets provide hygienic sanitation to 2881 students and 119 teachers every day. Schools like Stevens Academy, which serves 45 students’ ages 2½ to 7yrs from Mukuru. In due time, we hope to add more toilets to the schools to facilitate ease of access during breaks when there is peak usage.
Our staff often returned from their visits to the schools that had Fresh Life Toilets with amazing anecdotes about the impact Fresh Life was having on the schools. More students, better attendance, happy teachers, happier parents – you name it, we heard it! Our favourite story was about the parent who purchased a Fresh Life Toilet once she saw that her child now had hygienic sanitation at school. We decided to look into this more quantitatively by conducting a survey of our 14 partner schools.
Our survey results reveal there is proven evidence that the Fresh Life Toilets are keeping the children in schools. Factoring out one outlier, there was an average recorded increase of 20% in enrollment and attendance owing to the new sanitation facilities at our Fresh Life schools. For example, at Stevens Academy, the enrollment numbers rose by 150% from 18 students in May to 45 in September. The increase in enrollment also ensures that the schools garner more revenue to provide sustainable sanitation to their students.
School principal Margaret Karani told us, “Prospective parents have been visiting the school in record numbers to tour the school and view the Fresh Life Toilet.” Parents have shared that they are enrolling their students in Stevens Academy because the school provides such excellent services to the students, enabling the students to perform at their best.
The schools have also seen a significant improvement in the cleanliness of the school grounds since the installation of the Fresh Life Toilets. Reuben Baptist community school Principal Janet Lwoyelo shared that the youngest students used to defecate on the school’s playground and in the nearby field during playtime. Now, the playground and field are clean and safe for the students to use for sports and games. In one of the community schools, the school head confided to us that the last case of diarrhoea outbreak in her school led to the withdrawal of seven students by their parents. However, after installation of the Fresh Life facility in the school, enrollment rose by 17%.
Daily average attendance is up by 47% at the schools surveyed. For example 8 of Stevens Academy students had poor attendance prior to the installation of the school’s Fresh Life Toilet. Another independent study found out that “Pupils in schools with cleaner toilets were half as likely to be absent than pupils in schools with dirtier toilets. ” The students now come to school each day, ready to learn. The girls who have begun to menstruate also treasure the Fresh Life Toilets. It offers them the much- needed privacy as well as the added incentive of attending school without fear.
We are gratified to know that our Fresh Life Toilets are having such a clear impact on young people, teachers, and the community. Thanks again to Oxfam for their support, and all of the teachers and parents who work so hard to ensure that students are receiving a good education.