A third of schools without water or toilets

Two school girls in the school toilet
Image: WaterAid/Jerry Galea

One in three schools around the world have no clean water or toilets, detrimentally impacting education.

Around 263 million children aged between six and 17 do not go to school at all, with a lack of water and decent sanitation being an obstacle for many. Some children are unable to go to school because of the time they have to spend collecting water or because there is nowhere for them to go to the toilet at school.

Girls often skip school when they start their period, or drop out altogether, if there are no decent toilets or space to wash themselves and stay clean and healthy.

Rofina, 19, a student from Timor-Leste is in her final year of school and is pleased that her school now has a clean, private toilet for girls to use when they have their period: “Compared to the old toilet it has water, all the things girls need and is very clean. I feel so happy that it helps girls when we are menstruating. We can just go to the toilet. In the past when girls had their periods we would always go home because we want to use pads, but we didn’t have them at school and the toilet was dirty. So we would go home to use the toilet. We would talk to the teacher if we had a problem, but the teacher would get angry when we missed class. When I missed class I felt sad because I lose some of the lesson and it stops my study if I go home.”

“The old toilet was so dirty, but now the new toilet is very clean and the girls always use it when they have their periods.”

“When the toilet was dirty it was smelly and students couldn’t study well because the toilet was dirty, now the toilet is good because it is clean.”

“When I finish school I want to continue my studies at university because I want to achieve my dream to become a doctor. But it is not easy to achieve. I have to study hard. I have my national exams in two weeks.”