Little asian boy to wash their hands at park

Dr. Rick Johnston of the World Health Organization (WHO) stresses that learning environments need three basic things: handwashing facilities, clean drinking water and toilets. But, according to The Straits Times, nearly half the world's schools lack these necessities.

Almost 900 million children have to deal with a lack of basic hygiene facilities during their education. This reality forces many children to risk their health in order to take part in classes, according to the report produced jointly by the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) and the WHO — the first to look specifically at provision in schools.

The report found nearly half lacked proper handwashing facilities, essential for helping prevent the spread of infections and disease.

The World Bank, last year, said countries needed to quadruple spending to $150 billion a year to deliver universal safe water and sanitation. But experts say they are optimistic the situation can be quickly improved if world leaders treat water, sanitation and hygiene as priorities.

Even with the appropriate resources, it takes additional effort to encourage handwashing habits.

In the U.S., the “Healthy Schools, Healthy People: the School Network for Absenteeism Prevention” program — a joint initiative of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Cleaning Institute — works to promote hand-hygiene habits to help prevent the spread of infectious disease and reduce related absenteeism.

The custodial staff, for instance, can play an important role in hand hygiene by working with their teachers and school administrators to implement in-school hygiene education programs designed to promote the importance of handwashing and reduce student absenteeism.