When Bhupendra Bahadur Pun joined Tribeni Secondary School as its principal five years ago, he found the school in a dismal state.
Less than six out of 10 students attended the school in the remote part of former district of Rukum regularly. Attendance among female students was especially poor during their menstruation period. Such was the case with female teachers as well. Pun also had a very difficult time convincing 20 parents to work towards betterment of the students by being involved in the school management committee.
In early 2016, Pun and a female teacher Sakuntala Kathayat received an opportunity to participate in a three-day training on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in school as well as menstrual hygiene management. The training was organized by the Water Supply and Sanitation Division Office of Rukum and supported by UNICEF.
The duo came back from the training with fresh minds to make a change in their school.
“As the first step, we conducted a half-day session for all staff members and students about WASH in schools and menstrual hygiene management,” said Mr. Pun. “The next day we conducted one-day sanitary pad making training for female students and teachers.”
“We also sat together to create a sanitation plan for the school.”
The plan is publicly displayed on the wall of the school.
With support from UNICEF, the school renovated its water supply system as well as constructed a hand washing station and Tipi Tap, and an incinerator for sanitary pad disposal.
This had a positive impact on the female students' school attendance.
“Girls began to show interest to come to school during menstruation time as well,” said Suman Bohara, a student in grade nine.
Students are more engaged in cleaning the school area by themselves and continue to discuss next developments.
“Each higher grade female student takes personal responsibility for use and disposal of the sanitary pads in the incinerator,” said Bibhuti Khadka, a grade 10 student. “Some of our teachers are even supporting students without any hesitation for making sanitary pads for students.”
Following these changes, the school has seen a gradual increase in the number of the students enrolled, increased attendance and educational achievements.