An Assessment of the Attitude of SHS Students towards Environmental Sanitation in Ghana: A Case of Some Selected SHSs within the Greater Accra Region

An Assessment of the Attitude of SHS Students towards Environmental Sanitation in Ghana: A Case of Some Selected SHSs within the Greater Accra Region
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  1 An Assessment of the Attitude of SHS Students towards Environmental Sanitation in Ghana: A Case of Some Selected SHSs within the Greater Accra Region By John Mbah Aduku ABSTRACT  Sanitation and good hygiene are fundamental to health, survival, growth and development. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have set us on a common course to push back poverty, inequality, hunger and illness. The main objective of the study is to examine the attitude and knowledge of JHS students towards environmental sanitation conditions in our public schools in Ghana and its effect on the health of the  people. The study adopted the case study method to understand the situation in six selected public schools within the Ga West Municipality. Administration of questionnaires to 400 students in these schools enabled the researcher to understand the students ’  assessment of the environmental sanitation conditions in these schools in  particular and the Ga West metropolis in general. In addition, the availability of environmental sanitation facilities and services and the awareness of students about environmental sanitation regulations in the schools were analysed. Furthermore, interviews were conducted in selected government institutions and five private waste management companies involved in environmental sanitation in Accra. The study revealed differences in sanitation behaviour among students from the various schools. As such, students have poor attitude towards sanitation. Some recommendations pointed to the need for intensive public education to promote a positive attitude for environmental sanitation in schools within the Ga West Metropolis.  2 Key words: Environment; Sanitation; Waste management; Attitude; Knowledge. 1.1   Background to the Study Bad attitudes and poor hygiene, persistent behavioural risks, poor basic sanitation, and new and emerging diseases are contributing to a deadly mix that is changing the classic  picture of healthy youth in our second cycle institutions in Ghana. Despite the obvious international epidemiological demographic shifts and certain policy improvements, the state of programme delivery and research in the field of adolescent and youth health is scarcely adequate to make the world “fit for children” as foreseen by the twenty -seventh special session of the General Assembly on Children in 2002. Unfortunately, the high expectations of school health and environmental sanitation education programmes have not always been fulfilled. In many countries, schools are not safe for children due to neglect of the operation and maintenance of facilities. In addition environmental sanitation education given to SHS students has not always been relevant or effective. Schools too often suffer from:     Non-existent or insufficient water supply, sanitation and hand-washing facilities;    Toilets or latrines that are not adapted to the needs of children, in particular, girls;    Broken, dirty and unsafe water supply, sanitation and hand washing facilities;    Unhealthy and dirty classrooms and school compounds;    Children with poor hand washing habits and practices. Ghana is a small open economy which has experienced some improvements in her growth since independence. However, critics have argued that, the regional redistribution  3 of growth has been based towards few regions such as Accra and Kumasi. This has created a great disparity between urban and rural growth. The industrialization of the urban centers has led to population pressures in these areas. The consequences of this include, poor settlement plans, increase in waste production, inter alia. Many people have argued that urbanization comes with some environmental problems. In Ghana for example, the major environmental problems associated with urbanization includes, production of waste and indiscriminate disposal of waste, building along water areas, waste collection problems among others. Currently, Accra is full of chocked drains and suffers from indiscriminate waste disposal, and uncollected refuse in central waste containers. It has become the habit of both young and old to litter their surroundings; a few mentioned places include Kwame Nkrumah Circle, Kaneshie and the like. Citizens of Ghana often remove garbage from the gutters and dump them along the streets which then move back in to the gutters by rain, pedestrians or wind. When poor practice such as this is curtailed, it will then conform to the definitions according to (Cave & Kolsky, 2009) who define sanitation as the practice of collection, reuse and disposal of human excreta and domestic waste with the overall objective to protect the schools health. In attempts to keep the environment clean it is the human lives that are paramount. In the Senior High School Integrated Science syllabus, there is a mutual relationship  between environmental education and science education. Some of the environmental topics in the syllabus are diseases in humans (cholera, dysentery, malaria and typhoid), Industrial and Domestic waste, collection and disposal of waste. Other topics are Public Health and Sanitation, Health Services (personal hygiene and cleanliness of surroundings). But for the purpose of this study, the researcher will concentrate on water  4  pollution, domestic waste collection and disposal which is discussed in their syllabus. A weak foundation of training students leads to low health status, consequently, affecting the general output of the nation’s economic production in the near future. In other words, knowledge acquired regarding environmental sanitation will help students to understand and behave right towards their environment. One of the objectives of the syllabus states that, students are to develop the appreciation of the causes and effects of the tropical diseases and the need to prevent them. Past reviews about personal environmental sanitation indicate that perception strongly influences one’s hand washing beliefs and practices  (Mensah, 2011). Previous studies conducted in Ethiopia provide limited details about the environmental sanitation. Additionally, few investigators have examined environmental sanitation specifically among school children, a population especially susceptible to communicable diseases. The study therefore seeks are to evaluate the environmental sanitation state in SHS in the Ga-West Metropolis, and to assess the extent to which proper knowledge on environmental sanitation is associated with personal attitude among SHS students in the Ga-West Metropolis in Ghana. 1.2   Problem Statement The negative attitude of the public towards the environment does not exclude the educational institution whose problem has been aggravated by constant changes not just in curriculum content but also school subjects. For instance, school subjects such as hygiene where students were once taught sanitation of the environment has been replaced with health education, providing little or no opportunities through which students can be taught or learn the act of waste management and sanitation. Environmental education was  5 integrated into the Ghanaian school curriculum where students are taught environmental related issues in and around our communities. The belated introduction of the programme was aimed at raising the awareness level of the people about environmental quality, which is moribund with on clear direction (Mensah, 2011). Reckless littering of the environment makes the environment unpleasant and unhealthy to inhabit. Some itinerant traders and market women refuse to pick their garbage after selling. Garbage containers are found not emptied for months and the whole country is  buried in filth and it is no longer appealing. Unfortunately, there is growing concern about negative attitude of Ghanaians towards the management of environmental issues in the Greater Accra and the country as a whole as efforts at ridding the city of filth is thwarted by the actions of citizens. The management of environmental sanitation issues continues to be a challenge. Despite the inclusion of environmental sanitation topics in the Senior High School Integrated Science Syllabus, it appears students have not fully transferred the knowledge learnt into practice. This is because it is assumed that students acquire sufficient knowledge from school and imitating from the educated is best. It has therefore become necessary to examine the knowledge and attitudes of Senior High School Students on environmental issues in the Ga West District of Greater Accra Region. 1.3   Purpose of the Study The study aimed at examining the knowledge and attitudes of Senior High School Students towards environmental sanitation in the Ga West District of the Greater Accra Region.
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