The project Wash From The Start is oriented to educate and make aware adults and children regarding the importance of washing their hands frequently, as a part of early childhood care and education, and, besides, as a tool to prevent the spread of multiple infectious diseases.
Wash From the Start is the result of a partnership project with UNICEF. The agreement was signed in 2016. Based on their initiative Wash in Schools, arises Wash From the Start, attending specially ECCE from birth onwards.
The program also presents the value of the access to drinking water as a human right. The pandemic COVID-19 showed the importance of hand washing, but it also exposed the lack of access to drinking water in many countries, with consequences in the most vulnerable groups, where the early childhood belongs.
POINTS OF ACTION
Because every child has the right to a high-quality pre-primary education and to clean water, adequate sanitation and health-promoting hygiene education and because the SDGs require action now, OMEP, the World Organization for Early Childhood Education, calls on UNICEF, its partners, and the early childhood community to model, provide leadership for, and strategically advocate for the following points of action:
Promoting WASH in preschools represents progress towards SDG requirements for universal access to high-quality pre-primary education (SDG 4.2) and water, sanitation, and hygiene (SDG 6). In addition, WASH in preschool programs will contribute to other global priorities, including poverty reduction (SDG 1), good health and well-being (SDG 3), gender equality (SDG 5), reduced inequalities (SDG 10), peace and protection (SDG 16), and partnerships (SDG 17). Evidence suggests that both ECE and WASH yield short- and long-term benefits for individual children, their families, and the societies in which they live. Working with OMEP and other partners, UNICEF should explicitly encourage the development of sustainable and well integrated WASH components in existing and new preschools by including WASH from the START in its working groups, research agendas, knowledge exchange meetings and conferences, publications, and advocacy strategies.
Incorporating WASH into the design of preschools, preschool curricula, and preschool teaching practices will necessarily involve at least two sectors at national and local levels: the ministry or department responsible for preschool education and the ministry or department responsible for water, sanitation, and hygiene. Ministries of education, health, welfare, and finance should also be involved. Therefore, if progress is to be made, it is essential for these sectors to communicate and collaborate and to actively engage their partners in promoting WASH in preschool and other early childhood settings. UNICEF’s Education, WASH and Early Childhood Development units should take the lead by modeling this collaboration in their promotion of WASH from the Start by
Featuring WASH in preschools and other early childhood settings on UNICEF’s WASH, WASH in Schools, ECD, and education web pages and publications.
Supporting publications on WASH in early childhood settings.
Supporting the development and wide distribution of additional materials for WASH in early childhood settings, such as an early childhood version of the Three Star Approach.
Minimum standards for WASH in preschool should be specific to each context and should require gradual, sustainable improvements. They should include infrastructure and supplies, attention to special needs and challenging circumstances, developmentally and culturally appropriate teaching practices, and monitoring. With leadership from UNICEF and its partners, early childhood development and education experts, practitioners, parents, and community members should be involved in the development of these standards.
Colleges and universities with early childhood education programs have the expertise and the networks to promote context-specific WASH in teacher preparation and in-service training. With leadership from UNICEF and its partners, colleges and universities should be encouraged to (a) promote WASH in its teacher preparation and in-service programs and (b) assist with the development and translation WASH from the START instructional materials and lesson plans.
Disaggregated data by age, sex, and location will be invaluable in determining the status and needs of young children, as well as the outcomes of WASH programming in preschool settings. Such evidence can guide future planning, program implementation, and evaluation and can also serve as a powerful tool for attracting attention and funding for early education and WASH sectors.