In 2015, an exciting new charity, inspired by a major ARC project, was created to work with faiths on water, sanitation and hygiene. Faith in Water's first publication, Putting Clean Hands Together, produced in collaboration with UNICEF, was launched in October. Visit www.faithinwater.org for more information.
Schools are central to all religions: 50% of the world's schools are connected to faiths, whether as schools of religious thought or more generic schools that prepare students for adult life.
Water tap. PHOTO: Julian Harneis
Faith-based schools not only teach about the environment, water protection, sanitation and health but are also places where children can put their learning into practice.
These children will be able to make a significant difference in their communities, so it is crucial that faith schools equip them to act on issues around water and the environment.
Around the world, there are hundreds of thousands of faith based schools. They are administered through a vast array of local, national, regional and international networks.
It might be an Anglican Diocese in Sub-Saharan Africa with responsibility for as many as a hundred schools; it might be a network of mosques in rural Indonesia who run hundreds of pasentrans (Islamic boarding schools); it might be a Catholic Religious Order running schools in South America or the Sikhs in the Punjab and their school network.
Each faith has its central body with responsibility for the overall planning and development of its educational work and these well-established and trusted structures play a huge role in the day to day running of their schools. The important influence of faith groups on the children they teach represents a commitment to the next generation that ARC aims to support through environmental education programmes.
Water is central to many religions. It cleanses the body, and by extension purifies it, and these two main qualities confer a highly sacred status.
Water provision in schools for drinking, hand washing, flushing, cleaning, school meal preparation and the provision of clean toilets and urinals are vital to keep children healthy.
We therefore see faith schools as a central component to tackling water issues. They are places where the message of the religious value of water can be understood and also where healthy water behaviours can be learnt and used.
The Water Schools programme is a joint project between ARC and the Ecological Management Foundation (EMF) that was set up as a direct result of an inaugural ‘Faith in Water’ meeting in Salisbury, UK in July 2009. You can read more about that meeting and download conference papers here.
ARC is currently working with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the New Psalmist Baptist Church, Baltimore MA, USA to map WASH in Schools projects across the world and share this on the Wash In Schools Mapping website.
ARC’s Education and Water project is a partnership with EMF, the World Bank, The Norwegian Government and UNICEF.
Education for Sustainable Development
Click here to read about our work in Africa developing an Education for Sustainable Development toolkit.
Islam and water
One of our partners has developed this charming video exploring the role of water in Islam.
July 29, 2010: Water Schools - some important new material
In July 2009 ARC organized what a very significant meeting on faith schools and water. On top of its outcomes, the conference was full of so many inspiring stories and statistics that we have decided to issue a document in order to share them.