Agroup of MPs recently visited some schools in a bid to familiarise themselves with the problem of genocide ideology in schools. In their visit, some, as was reported by the Sunday Times some were horrified by the poor hygiene standards in some schools.
Now such revelations really put the adage, "A healthy mind in a healthy body" to test. It is really deplorable for a school to exist under very shameful standards of hygiene. Hygiene is supposed to be one of the principle things to put in place before learning can begin. For a school to be in such a state simply means that the school administrators and, or the inspectorate of schools desk in the Ministry of Education are not doing a good job.
Hygiene in schools can be assessed at two major levels. One is personal hygiene while the other is general school cleanliness which includes the classes, dormitories and the entire school environment.
For personal hygiene, students should always keep clean by bathing, washing their clothes, combing their hair and brushing their teeth regularly. Short of this, the germs will be too happy to show them what they can do. Being unhygienic is a source numerous ailments some of which the doctors many not be aware. Poor body hygiene will certainly attract the ubiquitous bed bugs and lice. A school ought to have a steady supply of clean water for the students to meet the basic hygiene levels.
And by the way personal hygiene does not have to be the reserve of the students only. Not at all! Teachers too and all other school staff must be neat and tidy all the time. Teachers need to appear neat and presentable because they are expected to give a good example to their learners. A teacher who does not comb his hair cannot expect his students to do so.
Incidentally the current Minister of State in charge of Primary and Secondary Education, Theoneste Mutsinadashyka emphasised this very much during the just concluded teachers’ solidarity camp. He said that, he will not tolerate low levels of hygiene especiaal among teachers. He clearly expressed his intense dislike for teachers who do not shave their beards, those that wear dirty jeans to class and all other forms of poor hygiene that demean a teacher.
Students and teachers should be encouraged to maintain proper hygiene and smartness. The excellent ones may even be recognised and rewarded as a way of motivating the laggards.
The general school environment should also be clean. There ought to be intensive and regular cleaning of the dormitories, classrooms, and school compound. A filthy dormitoy is a true five star residence for bedbugs. A bushy compound will not only offer free accomodation to Africa’s most effective predator, the mosquito, some snakes will also take residence therein.
In most boarding schools the problem of bed bugs is so rampant. Students bring some from home and at school they (bedbugs) find numerous fellows to feed on. It is worse when the school has wooden beds because the bugs love to hide in the small crevices between the pieces of wood. Regular fumigation of the whole school can go a long way in eliminating the problem of bed bugs that keep students awake in the dormitories and asleep in class.
For day scholars who commute from home each day, hygiene standards need to be enforced at home because if a student comes to school dirty it implies that even those back home are equally dirty.
To tell you the truth, I am not even enjoying writing this piece because I believe keeping hygiene is a self explanatory virtue that deserves no space on these pages. A helthy mind can only exist in a healthy body period. If really, charity begins at home then parents should be the first to instill this discipline in their children before sending them to school.