Without clean water and a healthy school environment, children can't learn. Water-related illnesses like diarrhoea sap students' strength and force them to skip school. A recent study by WaterAid argues that access to safe water and sanitation is so important for economic and social development that it can be viewed as the ‘key enabler’ of the entire Sustainable Development Goals agenda.


Sanitation Education

But building taps and toilets does not improve public health alone. Essential life skills and healthy habits need to be nurtured alongside hygiene facilities. Introducing new behaviours is what makes WASH* programmes sustainable, and the best place to cultivate new practices is in schools. UNICEF argues that the most cost-effective WASH schemes target kids at school since students disperse knowledge widely and learn practices that will stay with them for a lifetime.


* Water, sanitation and health

Helping Girls

Girls have the most to gain from a clean water supply. Household chores, like fetching water or cleaning the house, keep many girls out of school. This time often eats into the school day, and girls are left exhausted from carrying heavy water containers. Girls who have begun their periods are forced into skipping school when they are on their period. In Cambodia, a girl can miss up to four months of school due to her period. Without somewhere clean and private to change their sanitary pads, upper-primary aged girls have no choice but to stay at home.

Discover how UWS is helping girls

“For girls to enjoy their rights to education and fulfil their potential to contribute to the health and wealth of their families, communities and nations they need to be able to manage their periods with comfort and confidence 

Therese Mahon, Rebecca Heald and Claire Grayson, WaterAid UK

UWS Approach

As an education charity, we recognise the importance of providing good sanitation facilities in all of our schools. We develop school environments that are clean, comfortable and safe for all of our students.

Every UWS School is built with:


In Nepal, our fellows are taking the lead in introducing healthy practices: teaching daily hand-washing classes and hair combing lessons. One of our UWS Fellows writes about her hygiene programme at UWS Majhua School here. And in Cambodia, all of our kindergartens have a ‘hygiene area’, where our youngest students their toothbrushes, wash their hands before each meal and learn lifesaving habits.


This month at UWS, we are committed to improving the health of our students in Myanmar. 17 million people in the country do not have access to clean water, with especially high concentrations in rural areas.

To combat this, we want to provide hygiene-kits for every class.

Included in the kits are toothbrushes, soap, nail clippers, hair oil and combs, which help the students to stay healthy and provide the teacher with resources to teach basic life skills lessons.

Donating just £25 can provide a hygiene-kit for an entire classroom and support our work in Myanmar.

Find out more