Published by the Visayan Daily Star
Editor-in-Chief & President
Bureau Chief, Dumaguete
MAJA P. DELY
|CARLOS ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA
Department of Education Undersecretary for administration Alain Del Pascua has revealed that while they have achieved significant gains in the ambitious effort to install toilets and handwashing facilities in all public schools, they are still encountering problems.
The DepEd’s Comprehensive Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Schools (WiNS) program was able to install gender-segregated toilets and handwashing facilities in thousands of public schools all over the country in the past three years. However, Pascua revealed that new problems are hounding the program, citing the theft of faucets and the clean up and maintenance of toilets and hand washing facilities among their greatest challenges.
The problem has become so widespread that the DepEd has sought help in designing a faucet that can not be stolen or used in private homes and offices. Pascua said they have approached a group of industrial designers and even the Department of Agriculture regarding alternative faucets or “water droplet devices” that cannot be used outside schools.
“We’re appealing to our communities: let all those facilities remain in the schools. Don’t bring them home, because other students will be using them, teachers will be using them, and the community can also use them,” Pasua said.
The problem of theft, vandalism and pilferage has long hounded our country’s schools and other public facilities. Not only are faucets being stolen and toilets being vandalized, many roads remain poorly lit because of thieves who steal the electrical wires that power streetlights provided by government. In a country where crime rates are supposed to have fallen, widespread theft of school handwashing facilities shouldn’t be a problem that concerns DepEd officials searching for unorthodox solutions from industrial designers and the DA.
Government should be capable of going after criminals who target public facilities that are not as well guarded as their private counterparts, especially when those facilities perform critical public services. A DepEd that is giving up on the rampant thievery of its faucets and handwashing facilities is a critical indicator of a government failure to provide the security required by public schools. Hopefully the DepEd and the Department of the Interior and Local Government can find a solution to this issue that has been hounding our schools, public areas, and communities in general soon.*