Utilising a competition framework, Toilets Making the Grade® catalyses improvements in the hygiene and sanitation situation at schools and institutions – at scale.

Steps at Schools

After getting all the information schools need, they can start their internal process. For the implementing organisation, preparations have usually started months before that. Look at schools' four big steps below.

Step 1

After school management has decided to take part, each school creates a team, motivated by competition incentives, like prizes and recognition. Teams include all kinds of actors like students, teachers, maintanance staff, school management and even parents.

Step 2

These teams self-analyse their own school’s hygiene challenges. Inspirational tools, like the “four-senses-inspection” or “every-vote-counts”, are provided to assist them in this process.

Step 3

The newly created, joint understanding enables the teams to identify solutions for overcoming their own challenges and implement them. These solutions are submitted in an accessible format through each competitions website. In areas with difficult internet access, entries can be done on mobile phones, or on paper.

Step 4

The nationally appointed jury selects the best competition entries. Winning schools in selected categories are celebrated at the grand award ceremony and win prizes.

Where? Why? How?

Toilets Making the Grade® can be applied easily and become an inspiring team experience.

This methodology can be applied both in high and low income countries. The scope of the competition from national to local can be chosen by the competition organiser, depending on available capacities and resources.

Since 2012 competitions were implemented in Uganda, Pakistan, Jordan and Germany. While the core methodology remained the same, the framework was adapted to suit the local settings.

In Germany, two national competitions were run by an NGO. The competition was announced online and through an extensive media campaign. Any school in Germany could participate voluntarily and receive support via online-channels. A multi-stakeholder jury selected three winners and awarded cash and hardware prizes, donated by the private sector.

In Uganda, the competition was run twice by the public health and education departments of the local government in the city of Kampala, as well as the authorities in Apac and Lira. Announced via official channels, the contest was open to public primary schools. Participants received on-demand Q & A support. A jury, including high level individuals, identified two “role model schools” per district, but all participating schools received prizes, like a WASHaLOT handwashing facility.

In Pakistan, the competition was run three times by two local NGOs in Quetta District and Peshawar District exclusively amongst selected project schools. Participation was mandatory, but schools received much personal guidance from NGO staff. A jury consisting of senior stakeholders selected three winning schools, which were honoured at a high level award ceremony and rewarded with school bags, sports kits and swings for the playground.

In Jordan a national competition open to all public schools was run by the Ministry of Education to implement the national health protocol ensuring hygiene to prevent COVID-19.

In all cases, Toilets Making the Grade® helped to inspire team work at schools, resulting in a self-assessment of challenges and the self-implementation of improvements.

When it comes to school toilets, many assume that “no one cares”. In reality, everyone desires a safe, clean, hygienic sanitation facility, even if this wish is not apparent, due to the taboo surrounding sanitation.

Toilets Making the Grade® enables an honest, genuine discussion. The different tools of its tested methodology make intrinsic motivation visible for all, creating a positive group dynamic. The existing knowledge of users, cleaners and administrators is harnessed. Everyone becomes aware of their respective roles and responsibilities. These insights lead to changed behaviour and a culture of earnest caringness.

These elements make Toilets Making the Grade® a vehicle for positive change. Small improvements in equipment and supplies, increased awareness or organisational structures can break the cycle of decay and turn school toilets into a pleasant place. Once the framework has been adapted to a specific context, the scope of the contest can be scaled for maximum outreach. Since schools are enabled to self-analyse and -implement, an up-scaling to more schools requires proportionally little input.

The Toilets Making the Grade® methodology invites individuals to participate in a team exercise. Teams accept a challenge, without a predetermined outcome. The competition with other teams and the recognition at the awards ceremony help to drive ambition. This activity creates a common understanding, social cohesion and positive group momentum.

The competition provides a fun framework to inspire each individual to engage, and for the team members to collaborate. As first improvements become recognisable and group members experience self-efficacy, many teams are motivated to excel further. Small improvements trigger larger ones and lead to positive change.

Who Benefits?

Schools »

improve and maintain healthy sanitation and hygiene.

Local Governments »

receive insights into school sanitation and underlying issues.

Donors & NGOs »

increase the sustainability of their investments into infrastructure.

Benefits for Schools

Toilets Making the Grade® is a rewarding experience, for you as an implementer and for the schools you work with. By accepting the challenge and creating a team, schools can improve their schools´ hygiene, make their sanitation facilities a more pleasant place and create a better learning environment through enhanced health and dignity. Institutions get a clear step-by-step instruction to create a common understanding of challenges and discover how everyone at school can work together for improving the current situation. Awareness on behaviour, infrastructure and organisational structures around sanitation and hygiene in schools can be increased through the common Toilets Making the Grade® process of the team.

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Benefits for Local Governments

By running such a competition, you will receive self-assessments of the sanitation and hygiene situation from your schools and they will implement the solutions to their challenges. By participating in the jury, you will receive insights into the underlying issues, which go beyond hardware and budgetary constraints, learning also from the perspectives of your other jury members. The ownership created at schools will ease the financial burden on your administration. Infrastructure investments are better maintained and this may attract new investors.

Want to organise your own Toilets Making the Grade® competition? We can guide you step by step.

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Benefits for Donors & NGOs

Toilets Making the Grade® can complement your current ‘WASH in School’ activities to increase the sustainability of your investments into infrastructure. Toilets Making the Grade® also furthers awareness for the importance of sanitation and hygiene with school students, staff and administrators, while strengthening team work between different stakeholders in and around schools – even beyond sanitation.

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