New school toilets, a paradigm shift of students for cleanliness

14 Jan 2024 11:30am
Student Nur Mirza Zhafrisya Abdul Rahman, 9, using the toilet facilities at Sekolah Kebangsaan Tanah Hitam.
Student Nur Mirza Zhafrisya Abdul Rahman, 9, using the toilet facilities at Sekolah Kebangsaan Tanah Hitam.

KUALA LUMPUR - Even though the project of upgrading school toilets may not make much sense to some, the impact of these efforts has greatly improved the well-being of students.

In fact, what is interesting is that it also injects students with enthusiasm and excitement at school besides raising their awareness to share the responsibility of taking care of this new-look toilet instead of handing it over to cleaners.

The fact is, the bad experience and discomfort of using poor school toilets resulted in some students resisting the feeling of easing themselves for hours until school is over.

What is of concern is the health and safety of the students themselves for the long term and one can still recall the incident of a Year Three female pupil who was reportedly injured when a flush toilet tank fell on her in a primary school in Perak last July.

Nonetheless, the numerous episodes and bad experiences of using school toilets are now a thing of the past when the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim called for a nationwide maintenance and upgrading school toilet project to bring about a paradigm shift on school toilets among students.

This was proven when the results of a Bernama survey in several schools in Negeri Sembilan, Kelantan, Perak and Perlis found that the upgrade and maintenance project by the Education Ministry (MOE) showed there was a major change in the image of school toilets as they are now cleaner and comfortable.

Some have a minimalist concept, some are hotel standard toilets or as found in Rest & Service (R&R) areas when upgraded with tiles of interesting colours as well as modern sinks and faucets adorned with decorative flowers and plants and most importantly toilets now smell much better.

"The toilet is more beautiful now. I'm more excited to come to school because I don't have to worry about going to the toilet to ease myself as the facilities are in working condition," said Aniq Darwis Muhammad Sobri, 12, a Year Five pupil of Sekolah Kebangsaan Air Hitam Labu at Wakil Pos Tronoh Mines Kampar, Perak, told Bernama.

Related Articles:

The excitement of using this new toilet also instills the awareness of students to jointly take responsibility to ensure this gift is well taken care of by everybody.

In fact, it is interesting that there is a school in Negeri Sembilan that implements a concept of adopting toilets by taking turns to clean them and thus instil a sense of responsibility in line with Anwar's suggestion that schoolchildren should not to take the issue of toilet cleanliness and comfort lightly.

The approach taken by Sekolah Kebangsaan Kampung Tanjong, which is about 40 kilometres from Seremban, made Year Five student Nur Hani Marizza Zulhelmi, 11, and Year Six student Muhammad Khairul Azmi, 12, reprimand their friends who take toilet cleanliness lightly.

"It feels good to see the toilet getting more beautiful... we are also reminded to keep the toilet clean. There's no need to expect cleaners to clean and if there are friends who don't take care, we will reprimand them," said Nur Hani Marizza who is also a school prefect.

The situation is the same at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Seri Intan, Kelantan when the school appointed teachers to monitor as well as prepare a hygiene schedule as well as give added value to beautify the toilets including decorating them with mural paintings.

Considering that the toilet upgrade project brought great meaning to the comfort and relief of 748 students at the school as they are now able to end their episodes of misery of walking to another block to share with many students due to the broken toilets in their block.

Its principal, Che Sauti Che Ibrahim, said the allocated funds had helped solve the problem of broken toilets on the first to third floor blocks which could not be used for a long time.

This situation, he said, made it difficult for students when they had to go to another block which is quite far away to share toilet resulting in a congestion at the facility.

The upgrading effort besides changing the outlook of toilets also emphasises the quality of the materials used to ensure it is durable and more importantly, safe.

In Perak, the state Education director Datuk Mohamad Fauzi Mahson said his department emphasised the five scopes outlined by the Ministry of Education in the process of repairing and maintaining toilets in schools, including pump systems and electrical wiring as well as requiring the provision of sitting toilets.

So far, the upgrading and maintenance of school toilets in Perak involved 795 schools and was fully completed at the end of last year at a cost of RM55.65 million.

Even so, this successful effort will not have an effective impact if there is no collaboration with the Parents and Teachers Association (PIBG) and because of that, strengthening this collaboration is also one of the school's emphasis.

For example, the aspect of the toilets in SK Kampung Tanjong, Negeri Sembilan is greatly assisted by PIBG, as well as in SK Tanah Hitam, Perak and interestingly, the school also has various other plans to improve the school's toilet facilities through the collaboration.

This includes creating a digital toilet that uses a 'touch' button when students enter the toilet in order to assess how often students use it in addition to identifying if they have health problems.

It appears that Anwar's desire to have clean and safe toilet facilities for the comfort of students and teachers in this country is bearing fruit when a significant impact can be seen from the toilet upgrade and maintenance project.

The renovation of toilets for 8,354 schools with an allocation of RM630.77 million started in mid-July last year collaboratively between the Implementation Coordination Unit (ICU) of the Prime Minister's Department (JPM) and MOE as well as district offices across the country, and thus it may be time to say goodbye to unsanitary and dull school toilets. - BERNAMA