13 It Is not a Luxury – It Is a Human Right (2005-2006)
The project was made possible by the financial support of Democracy Commission, Small Grant Program, of US Embassy, Sofia.
The project addresses a burning issue in Bulgarian schools: ill-maintained and nonfunctioning school toilets.
It involves three schools in Stara Zagora as model schools for implementation of good sanitation and hygiene practices:
Romain Rolland Bilingual High School;
3rd Secondary School;
9th Secondary School.
It aims to raise the awareness of school children about their human right to safe and healthy school toilets and hand washing facilities as guaranteed by the Bulgarian legislation through a civic model of “learning-by-doing.” The project will involve children from three schools in Stara Zagora. It will train the young people to act as responsible citizens and encourage the responsible local authorities to take appropriate action. These weekly training workshops will include topics as civic education and responsible citizenship; launching and implementing a public awareness campaign, lobbying for grass roots projects, mobilizing resources for these projects, working with local government to ensure enforcement of school sanitation and hygiene legislation, safe water and sanitation. The program will also raise the awareness of all stakeholders on the necessity to enforce the existing legislation that a healthy school environment is a human right via Teachers-Parents Committees Workshops and a Local Government Workshop for municipal counselors, experts, and administrators. A broad public awareness campaign comprising Regional City Round Table Discussion, Regional School Sanitation Conference, “Wash Your Hands” Campaign, and an Action for Change Campaign mobilizing matching funds from local resources for concrete repair projects in schools will accomplish the activities planned for implementation.
The current situation with school toilets in Stara Zagora is detrimental to the children’s health and unarguably an insult to human dignity. At the moment, the children are disgusted with this ugly situation and would grab any opportunity to create a change. However, they are ignorant of their human and civic rights and they lack the necessary skills to stand up for those rights. The NGO believes that safe sanitation and improved hygiene in schools is not a luxury – it is a human right. Students, being active citizens of a developed civil society, need support to be able to identify, communicate, mobilize resources and find solutions to this problem so that they can apply these skills to similar situations that may confront them in future.
The project will enable school children to organize themselves and to participate actively in the solution of a chronic problem that has been causing a negative impact on their school life. The program will stimulate exchange of ideas with peers and experts combining civic education learning with practical activities.