Education is core to the progression and preservation of humanity. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #4 states: To ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Therefore, this right to quality education is essential. Education encompasses the vital potential for the elevation of Water’s role in our world. However, the lack of Water accessibility hinders school attendance as well as the health and safety of students and faculty within these schools.
On an international level, Water and her vitality encompasses the disparities in water access and sanitation globally. Basic infrastructure and safety are lacking worldwide, with Water being at the center of this. Regarding the UN’s definition of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), 56% of schools within this category lack safe drinking Water. 40% of these schools also lack infrastructure for handwashing facilities. This data is derived from 2018-2019 and the disparity has only increased with the economic and societal struggles that come alongside the COVID-19 pandemic.
Issues in education accessibility tend to affect womxn in particular. The UN SDG target 4.5 directly states, ‘By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education.’ However, according to UNICEF, there is a prevalent gender inequality in education: “Only 49 percent of countries have achieved gender parity in primary education”.
Several journals have attributed poor access to Water as one of the main reasons behind low school attendance, particularly in rural schools. A case study in South Africa interviewed girls who discussed issues that come with menstruation, such as sanitation that inhibit their ability to attend school. Attendance is also affected by womxn and girls holding the responsibility for Water collection in their villages. As vital as it may be, this role presents problems in the time available for education opportunities for these womxn.
In the United States, we focus on what it means to create a ‘whole child’ for the justice of our world. The concept of the ‘whole child’ encompasses the critical incorporation of environmental, cultural and societal understandings of the person and their position in the world. David Sadker, the author of educational curriculums and textbooks used across the United States, delves into the purpose and meaning of public education. Sadker explains that “education is a unique tool that can reform our society and fuel care for our environment within our communities”. Therefore, the public school system, as highlighted by Sadker, aims to fill all gaps for the ‘whole child.’ Water& promotes Sadker’s claims on education and aims towards educating the whole child to impress education around Water and her protection.
From primary education to higher-level education, students across the world are taught how to interact, create, argue, promote, and grow in their individualized ways. Water intertwines within the elements of inclusive and equitable education. Promoting the inclusion of the Water crisis and a holistic appreciation of Water in education supports the betterment of the world. Education has the ability to recreate a society of learners that celebrate and advocate for Water and her intrinsic value.
Promoting these values in our schools and educating on the importance of Water will help advance humanity. At Water&, we recognize and advocate for pedagogical tools and advancing solution- based conversations around Water.
Devnarain, Bhanumathi, and Carmel R. Matthias. “Poor Access to Water and Sanitation: Consequences for Girls at a Rural School.” Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity, vol. 25, no. 2 (88), [Agenda Feminist Media, Taylor & Francis, Ltd.], 2011, pp. 27–34, http://www.jstor.org/stable/41321413.
“Goal 4 | Department of Economic and Social Affairs.” United Nations, United Nations, https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal4.
Sadker, David M, and Karen R. Zittleman. Teachers, Schools, and Society: A Brief Introduction to Education. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2012. Print.