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There are no sinks in 2 out of 5 schools in the world, and what is the situation in Armenia…

As the world prepares for the reopening of schools, data from the WHO and UNICEF joint monitoring show that in 2019 43% of schools in the world did not have basic facilities for washing their hands with soap. Meanwhile, in the days of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, this is a key precondition for the safe operation of schools. It should be noted that there is no water supply in 73 schools of Armenia, there is no sewerage in 140 schools…


“Water and sanitation are very important to prevent infection”


“The closure of schools in the world due to the coronavirus has created unprecedented challenges for the education and well-being of children,” said UNICEF Executive Director Hendrietta Faure. “We must give priority to the education of children. This means doing everything possible for the safe reopening of schools, ensuring sanitary and hygienic conditions in schools: proper hand hygiene, clean drinking water. ”


According to the report, the schools of about 818 million children do not have toilets, which puts them at additional risk of contracting the coronavirus and other communicable diseases. More than a third of these children (295 million) live in sub-Saharan Africa. 7 out of 10 schools in developing countries do not have basic hand washing facilities. Half of the schools do not have a toilet and drinking water.


The report emphasizes that countries working to prevent the spread of the coronavirus must balance the need for public health measures and their potential socio-economic consequences. The negative impact of the closure of schools on the long-term closure of children’s safety, welfare and education is best argued.


“Water and sanitation are essential for the effectiveness of infection prevention and control everywhere, including in schools,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Gebriesus. “Reopening schools and operating safely in the face of an ongoing coronavirus should be a priority in government strategy.”


Other notable findings in the report include:


  • Of the 818 million students, 355 million went to schools where there was water but no soap, and 462 million went to schools where there was no toilet or water to wash their hands.


  • In 60 of the 60 countries most at risk for a coronavirus-related health and humanitarian crisis, 3 out of 4 children have not had the opportunity to wash their hands at school since the beginning of the pandemic. Water was not available to half of the children, and more than half to the sanitary conditions. Other important hygiene considerations include problems with the proper use of personal protective equipment, cleanliness and disinfection, access to clean water, washbasins, soap, և (safe) bathrooms.


  • Drinking water in one of the three schools in the world was either limited or non-existent.


  • 698 million children did not have access to basic sanitation.


The report provides the necessary resources to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in schools, as well as 10 immediate actions and safety checklists. It is based on the Guidelines for Safe Reopening of Schools developed by UNESCO, UNICEF, the World Food Organization (WFP) and the World Bank (WB). The guide for state and local governments contains practical tips for reopening schools safely and ensuring the safety of children after returning to school.

What is the situation in Armenia?


According to the “Social Situation of the Republic of Armenia 2018” statistical collection, in the 2018-2019 academic year, only 564 out of 1409 schools operating in Armenia have sufficient building conditions. 459 schools need renovation and 386 schools need ongoing renovation. Moreover, according to the available data, 425 schools in Armenia need to improve seismic safety. About 60 of those schools are of 3rd and 4th degree.

There is not even water supply in 73 schools of the republic. 140 schools do not have sewerage, 440 schools do not have central or individual heating systems. Only 243 schools in the country have hot water supply.


 “A combined study of the results of the monitoring of educational institutions shows that the steps taken by the government are not enough, as the building and property conditions of a number of state educational institutions, especially the community, are not sufficient for the normal course of education, which leads to restrictions on the child’s right to education.” , – states the Human Rights Defender in his 2019 annual report.

The report notes that although there are problems with the building and property conditions of public schools in both urban and regional and rural schools, studies show that rural schools and kindergartens are more vulnerable in this regard. For example, according to the ombudsman’s monitoring, 65% of kindergartens in Armavir region are closed during the winter months of 2019. Most of them are kindergartens in rural communities. The reason is that the kindergartens do not have local heating systems or they do, but the financial means are not enough to operate them.


With all these problems, the schools and pre-schools of the republic must be able to ensure the safety of children in the conditions of the epidemic. The question arises: how to do it in the absence of water supply or sewerage?


UNICEF Support for Safe Reopening of Schools in Armenia


  • 9 kinder gardens in Alaverdi and  four alternative kindergartens in Alaverdi and Amasia will be provided with 26 hygienic and 29 sets for children’s use.


  • Translated and disseminated the School Reopening Concept developed by UNESCO, UNICEF, WB  Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees.


  • Developed materials about coronavirus for preschool teachers.


  • Created posters for schools and kinder gardens to prevent the spread of coronavirus and precautions, such as wearing masks properly 


  • – In September, with the financial support of the European Union, UNICEF will provide hygiene kits to 370 schools and preschools in Lori, Shirak, Tavush, Syunik and Gegharkunik regions.


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