Wash your hands: Education department orders Maharashtra's schools

A new Government Resolution, with 10 cleanliness commandments, laments the lack of basic hygiene education in the state’s schools

Carrying out a programme to teach children how to wash hands, after almost 68 years of Independence, is very sad.’ This is what a Government Resolution (GR), issued by the state’s education department, had to say on the occasion of a month-long cleanliness programme held under Swachh Maharashtra, part of the government’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

Representational pic
Representational pic

The 15-page-long GR described how one should wash hands, the importance of bathing every day and washing hands before eating food and after using the toilet. The same GR, however, also lambastes the education system for not having paid enough attention to imparting knowledge of basic hygiene through the school years.

The GR also has made statements about how there are countries in the world where mosquitoes are not to be found, and where food is consumed with cutlery, thus avoiding all contact between hand and mouth. That even dogs in some countries are taught toilet manners, “then why can’t we”? — should drive the point home, albeit bluntly.

The GR hopes that all teachers and officers associated with the education department are careful about personal hygiene, and those who are yet to follow suit, have been asked to do so immediately.
Emphasis has been laid on washing hands.

For example, it’s best to wipe hands in a personal handkerchief rather than use a common towel. If soap is not available, then one shouldn’t consider that his/her hands have been washed. In such cases, one should eat only using spoon. The GR gets into details such as how chapatti is difficult to be had with a spoon. In such cases, it advises using the hands and opting for a spoon to eat dal and rice.

“These are habits that most children from middle-class or upper-middle class are taught when they are very young. However, parents of the less privileged have no time to teach their kids such habits. Therefore, it becomes the school’s responsibility to impart basic, yet crucial lessons for life,” said Arundhati Chavan, President of Parents Teacher Association (PTA) of Mumbai.

“Basic concepts of hygiene should be taught in school at the initial stages. Over the years, we have not been serious about it. This is why we have come to such a state,” she added. Repeated attempts to contact the minister for school education Vinod Tawde, got us no response.

Ten commandments
The GR lays down 10 basic habits for cleanliness for students:
>> Wash hands properly
>> Wash hands before eating 
>> Wash hands after using the toilet
>> Use toilets for defecation and avoid defecating in public
>> Take a bath every day
>> Keep the classroom clean
>> Use dustbin to dispose off paper, wrapper, etc
>> Wear washed clothes. If washed by soap, do not wear it for more than three days
>> Keep the surroundings clean
>> While cleaning a place, keep it in mind that the area looks beautiful

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