Officials of the Department of Education (DepEd) Region IV-A and a delegation of health and education ministers from 19 countries in the Asia-Pacific region benchmarked Balayan East Central School on November 13 for the 7th Water, Sanitation, Hygiene (Wash) in Schools International Learning Exchange (WinS ILE). DepEd hosted the five-day WinS ILE from November 11 to 15 in pursuit of achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) which aimed at ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

“This event serves as a platform to exchange experiences, best practices, and even challenges to improve WASH in schools among the participating countries,” CALABARZON Asst. Regional Director Ruth L. Fuentes said in her message during the opening program.

Fuentes also recognized the BECS’ ALA-EH WinS (Acquiring Life Assurance and Excellent Health through WASH in School) banner program which highlighted its 10 best practices and are designed to integrate the importance of proper hygiene and sanitation practices promoting lifelong health for “Batang Balayeñong Batangueño.”

On the other hand, Balayan East District PSDS Avelino B. Mortel expressed his gratitude saying that the affair is indeed a lifetime opportunity to showcase the beautiful story on the school implementation of WinS program which is a culmination of everybody’s hard work and teamwork.

School WinS Coordinator Jocelyn D. Robles highlighted the success stories of how BECS championed the battle of the DepEd WASH program in the school. Robles also called the attention of higher authorities, especially SDO Batangas to help increase their commitment for financial support for the continuous provision of the needs of the learners.

School Principal Loida P. Rosales in her message said that to be recognized as an integral part of the seventh ILE would definitely be a highlight for the school community. She also stressed that such experience would certainly signify much inspiration to the school clientele.

Benchmarking

During the benchmarking, BECS showcased its ALA-EH WinS 10 best practices on scaling up school WinS program to the foreign delegates and other representatives.

Pupils from different grade levels showed the guests the proper way of hand washing with soap while singing the “hand washing jingle.” Other school facilities were also visited like the school clinic, comfort rooms, and individual and group handwashing facilities.

In an interview, Dr. Fouzua Khan from Ministry of Pakistan said that since this was her eight-time visit to the country, she was amazed on how committed the Philippine government specifically DepEd  in improving the quality of lives among Filipino children in terms of maintaining health and sanitation.

She  also said that through this event, she had the chance to share with them their challenges and to learn from the experiences of their counterparts in the different countries all over the world.

Open forum on WinS

After the benchmarking, a 10-minute wrap up discussion to answer queries about the school WinS implementation was done. The questions raised were focused on Monitoring & Evaluation, the importance of Operation & Maintenance in the provision of WASH service, and other concerns in WASH program.

The event is in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), German development agency Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), and Save the Children Philippines.

The WinS initiative is part of Oplan Kalusugan (OK) sa DepEd which is the integrated flagship program of the Department’s health programs, plans, policies, and activities for effective and efficient implementation at the school level.

This year’s WinS ILE marks the second time the DepEd has hosted the event since 2012. (Avelino B. Mortel, DIO/PSDS, SDO Batangas Province)