As Metro Manila prepares for the return of in-person classes, school heads are left with a problem: how can we meet the Department of Education (DepEd)’s minimum hand hygiene protocols when we lack the hand-washing facilities? Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) Safeguard, in partnership with Manila Water Foundation (MWF), addressed this by donating P70 million to build hand-washing facilities in all 285 schools that do not meet the DepEd Wash in Schools (WinS) hand hygiene ratings. By doing so, these public schools will be meeting DepEd’s minimum star rating in WinS Program, enabling the schools to apply for reopening.
The DepEd WinS Program is a three-star rating system developed in 2016 to rate public schools in the areas of safe drinking water, gender segregated toilets, group hand-washing facilities with soap, daily group hand-washing facilities and access to sanitary pads. Through a preplanning session, Safeguard was able to identify that the hand-washing areas scored the lowest across the board, with Metro Manila surprisingly as one of the key drivers of the rating.
According to P&G communications director Anna Legarda-Locsin, this partnership with DepEd and MWF encourages students and teachers to “practice good hygiene habits that will protect them from disease-causing germs and viruses while they are in school.” She also went on to say that everyone involved in this project is looking forward to “seeing the outcome of this project, and the health, and the good that we can do in the many schools in the community.”
When asked how the SAFE Wash in Schools initiative aligns with Safeguard Philippines’ goals, the brand’s communications leader, Jeune San Juan, says that “by safeguarding the everyday health and hygiene of our children and educators as well, we are also safeguarding the future of the nation. By enabling schools to reopen with hand-washing facilities, that is only just the first step we are taking in building safe habits for the future of our kids.”
Don Galo Elementary school head Mylene Catana shared how their school is currently rated very low, but with the help of the SAFE Wash in Schools program, she is certain that they will soon achieve a two or three-star rating. “[The hand-washing facilities] will help us achieve one, two or three stars. Because we now have enough water supply and our hand-washing facilities are enough to accommodate pupils to [wash their hands in] before entering the school and even after recess.
“On top of the donation for building more hand-washing facilities and providing water supply, Safeguard will be providing these schools soaps in all these schools to push the hand-washing movement further. Safeguard and MWF have already constructed 82 hand-washing facilities in schools to date, and this program will accelerate the number to 332 schools nationwide by the end of the year.
Jose Victor Emmanuel de Dios, the CEO of Manila Water Company and founder of MWF, expressed his thanks for this initiative led by P&G.
“On behalf of the Board of Trustees of the Manila Water Foundation, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to P&G Philippines, led by their president Mr. Raffy Fajardo for entrusting [MWF] with the #SafeWashInSchools project.”
In the coming months, Safeguard and MWF will roll out DepEd-approved educational modules to teach hand-washing habits in school and at home. This is an effort to ensure that hand-washing is practiced as a habit and is embedded in the learning curriculum.