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Poor toilet facilities could be impacting children’s education

On the 19th November World Toilet Day took place. This initiative highlights the importance of access to fully functional toilet facilities. Lacking these basic facilities can have a serious impact on a child’s health which in turn creates serious issues for their education.

According to Unicef, every day, around 1,400 children under the age of five die of illnesses linked to unclean water and poor sanitation. This equates to more than half a million a year – or scarily about one a minute.

In poorer countries these illnesses are often caused by few, if any, children having access to a toilet. Therefore the only option is to defecate outside. This more often than not takes place close to the only water supply.

A report released by WaterAid earlier this year discovered that India has a total 48 million children suffering from stunted growth which can effect a child’s emotional, social and cognitive development. Research conducted by medical journal The Lancet suggests five or more cases of diarrhoea, a disease often caused by drinking unclean water, before two years of age can lead to stunted growth.

Surprisingly, here in the U.K, children also face difficulties accessing appropriate toilet facilities with many school toilets not being fit for purpose. A recent survey revealed nearly 40% of secondary school girls reported “holding it in” so they didn’t have to visit the toilet. Common reasons for this were feeling the toilets were unhygienic or feeling unsafe due to the threat of bullying taking place in the toilet. Children are also refusing to drink water during the school day to prevent feeling the need to visit the toilet. This action can lead to health issues such as dehydration and bladder and bowel problems.

Main symptoms of dehydration are dizziness, headache and tiredness. Experiencing these symptoms will effect a child’s concentration and make focussing on the subject being taught very difficult.

No matter where in the world or the wealth of their country every child should have access to a fully functional, hygienic and safe toilet. Find out more about World Toilet Day and details on how to donate here


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