Empower students to empower a nation, the saying goes. To this end, the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (SBM-G) campaign had involved school students in various activities over the past five years, making them an integral part of the Mission. From writing letters to parents, to trying their hands in painting and essay competitions with meaningful sanitation messages; from participation in rallies, nigrani committees and cleaning drives to contributing to inter personal communication with a view to bringing about positive behavior change, their role was nothing short of valuable.
In fact, evidence suggests, that over the past five years they effectively took home the sanitation message to their families and the community at large. On their part, schools have made hand washing and sanitation a part of the curriculum and involved students in waste management, in the process empowering students to become problem solvers and creative thinkers.
Today, students continue to support the SBM-G campaign that is moving from ODF (open defecation free) to ODF Plus which includes solid waste management; and curbing use of single use plastics.
Take for the example the school students of Meerut district in Uttar Pradesh. On World Toilet Day (19th November, 2019), the Adarsh Primary School in Bahrora Gram Panchayat in Machhara Block of Meerut organized a cleanliness rally, following by a painting and essay competition.
Earlier, on 16th November, 2019, they distributed uniforms and stationery to the students after an awareness session on personal hygiene.
According to Mr. Tashreef Ali, Shiksha Mitra and Swachhagrahi Master Trainer of Meerut, similar activities are being carried out on a regular basis in other primary, junior and higher secondary schools of the district.
Focus is also being given to safe drinking water (Shud Jal), water conservation and plantation activity, in keeping with the Jal Shakti Abhiyan which is currently underway across the country. Students are taught that water should be used judiciously, not wasted and conserved for future generations. The importance of protecting water bodies from contamination and the need to harvest rainwater is also stressed upon.
In addition, to sustain sanitation behavior change, ratri chaupals continue on a regular basis as also visits to shops and hotels in the area to ensure access to sanitation for the general public and to ensure that they effectively manage their waste.
What is ODF Plus?
ODF Plus refers to ODF Sustainability as well as Solid and Liquid Waste Management
ODF Sustainability (sustained behavior change; leaving no one behind and addressing gaps; community toilets for floating populations; and refresher training of all grassroots functionaries)
Solid and liquid waste management (biodegradable waste management; plastic waste management; greywater management; and faecal sludge management).