A Blue School offers a healthy learning environment and exposes students to environmentally-friendly technologies and practices that can be replicated in their communities. Becoming a Blue School is a step-by-step process. The starting point is to ensure that children have access to safe water P.3, use well-maintained latrines P.4 and maintain good hygiene practices. Once this is achieved, Blue Schools goes beyond WASH and focuses on Menstrual Health and Hygiene (P.7), gardening activities, safe management of Solid Waste P.6 and environmentally-friendly practices.
The Blue Schools kit was developed by members of the Swiss Water and Sanitation Consortium (SWSC) and Eawag in 2018. It provides a set of guidance documents and reference materials to implement the approach. In a Blue School, children’s learning and practice is central. The aim is that children (1) drink safe water and understand the importance of it, (2) use well-maintained latrines and maintain good hygiene practices including menstrual health and hygiene, (3) practise and replicate safe solid waste management (SWM) and (4) experience sustainable agricultural techniques as well as good land and water management practices. It starts by addressing WASH needs and practices. Once they are improved, the activities that follow will depend on the specific needs and priorities of each school. The Blue Schools kit is available in different languages and includes (1) a concept note introducing the basics of the approach and providing a road map with recommendations on how to engage government and school stakeholders and ensure sustainability, (2) a catalogue of low-cost technologies to implement at school level or in the surrounding community and a catalogue of practical exercises for teachers to complement the lessons from the national curriculum and (3) a complementary facilitator’s guide providing a template for visual support to initiate discussions with children on each Blue Schools component and a summary of practical exercises selected by the school stakeholders.
The Blue Schools approach does not impose any tools or curriculum. The kit is a compilation of different tools to be selected by school stakeholders and include among others:
The Blue Schools kit has been designed for students in upper primary school or secondary school, but the concept can be implemented with any age group. The approach works best in development, rather than emergency, contexts as it is a longer-term process requiring commitment from school stakeholders, parents and government counterparts. However, the materials from the kit can be adapted to any context; some could also be used with adults.
The technologies and practical exercises displayed in the Blue Schools catalogues include guidance on the materials required and cost considerations.
The SWSC is implementing the Blue Schools approach in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Nepal, Niger, Sudan and Uganda and is currently building the evidence for the approach which will be documented on the SWSC website.
Assess the national school curriculum to identify topics where Blue Schools activities could enhance classroom learning and approved extra-curricular activities
Identify official student clubs and associations through which Blue Schools activities could be implemented
Ensure that school stakeholders are driving the process, for example by identifying the technologies and practical exercises best suited to the local ecological zone and socio-cultural norms
Ensure team members have the required skills, attitudes and behaviour to facilitate the process. They must be conscious of, and advocate for, environmental conservation to inspire the youth they serve
Do not impose pre-defined solutions on school stakeholders
Do not assume all schools are the same! Each school will select different technologies and practical exercises depending on their needs, ecological zones, priorities and interests
Do not design large gardening projects at schools where students are expected to work. The kit describes small-scale garden designs for demonstrating water conservation and sustainable low external input agricultural techniques
The SWSC is currently implementing Blue Schools in ten countries in over 175 schools. It uses a monitoring framework based on the Joint Monitoring Programme service ladder approach for WASH with additional Blue Schools topics of Menstrual Health and Hygiene P.7, Solid Waste Management P.5, school gardening and environmental activities. Several organisations are now using the Blue Schools kit and implementing Blue Schools programmes. There is no single way to implement Blue Schools: school stakeholders select the activities that are most relevant and interesting and decide on the order of activities and how to implement them. Project teams facilitate the decision making process without imposing preconceived solutions.
In Banteay Meanchey province, Cambodia, SWSC member Caritas Switzerland piloted Blue Schools in eight schools from 2018-2020. Working with local partner organisations and in close collaboration with the provincial government, the project improved drinking water and sanitation services, including a wastewater treatment system and facilities for menstrual hygiene. Children participated in SWM activities, environmental activities such as tree and flower planting and in the upkeep of the WASH facilities. They learned about the link between good hygiene and health and improved their hygiene practices. Prior to the pilot, teachers co-designed activities through workshops on the components using the Blue Schools Kit, selecting low-cost technologies and practical learning exercises for their students. The teachers are now inspiring other teachers from surrounding schools and parents to replicate good practices. Blue Schools has been aligned with the Three Star Approach F.11 and is currently being scaled-up in partnership with the Cambodian government, private and civil society partners.
To engage children in hands-on learning about hygiene measures and environmental conservation themes
SWSC (undated): SWSC Website
SWSC (2018): Blue Schools Kit (English Download)
Leclert, L., Moser, D. et al. (undated): Blue Schools - Linking WASH in Schools with Environmental Education and Practice 1st Edition, SWSC, Caritas Switzerland, Helvetas, Terre des hommes, Eawag
Khin, S., Zuber, B. (2021): Caritas Switzerland’s Blue Schools in Cambodia – A Success Story, SWSC
SWSC (2015): Fact Sheet on Blue Schools