A madrassa in Central Jakarta has become a model for good sanitation and environmental practices after an American grant enabled it to improve on existing facilities. The Islamic school has also started to teach its students the importance of good sanitation and the environment, its headmistress said.
The Al Ma’muriyah Islamic School, which has 317 students, used a Rp 70 million ($7,400) grant from USAID’s Environmental Services Project to build new toilets and install a septic tank.
“We used to have only one toilet for hundreds of students, but it was dark and dirty so the students often used the toilets in the mushala,” said Heny Suyanti, the elementary school headmistress.
Since April, they have had five clean toilets, three for females, all routed into a new septic tank.
Near the toilet, a facility for washing hands was also constructed for the students to use for cleansing rituals before prayers.
The National Development Planning Board (Bappenas) reported that Indonesia had lost Rp 57 trillion ($6 billion) in 2008 due to health problems caused by unhygienic practices.
Diseases such as diarrhea, dengue fever, typhus and cholera are strongly correlated with poor sanitation.
Since July, the school has implemented a new curriculum that teaches students and teachers to be aware of sanitation.
In addition, the school runs a program raising awareness of environmental issues.
Heny said the school has a program called Children Love the Environment (ACIL) to teach environmental basics to elementary school students.
“We teach them the basics of environmental issues, such as the importance of washing their hands before eating and planting some flowers and other plants,” she said.
The school is now separating the inorganic and biodegradable waste into different garbage cans.
They also have a garden where students can water the plants they have grown.
Dini Trisyanti, an environmental specialist from ESP, said the program would continue to educate the students and teachers about the environment.
“We will keep educating them regularly so that this clean, green, and hygienic school concept can continue,” Dini said.
“We also have a forum with five other schools in the capital to share our experiences as well as a forum to study the environment and the importance of proper sanitation.”
The other five other schools in the capital are Madrasah Al Falah in Central Jakarta, Petojo Utara Elementary School, Madrasah Ifadah, and Marunda 02 Elementary School in North Jakarta and Islamic Boarding School Al Qinayah in East Jakarta.