By Peris Njoroge
The new curriculum that is currently being piloted nationally from pre-primary 1
and 2 and grade 1 and 2, underscores the importance of hand washing and
introducing the habits early in the curriculum. Hand washing is comprehensively
covered under ‘Hygiene and nutrition’ and ‘Environmental’ learning activity areas
in the Competence Based Curriculum (CBC).
It is clear in the curriculum designs that guide teachers, that washing hands is
catered for in Early Years’ Education (EYE) topics like personal hygiene, health
practices, food, and safety education in the lower primary. The skill is repeated for
emphasis in other levels of learning.
Hand washing is identified as one of the healthy habits that promotes the wellbeing
of self and others in the community. Learners are practically taught the technique
of hand washing using clean running water and soap under the topic personal
hygiene. Further, lessons in healthy practices expose learners to instances when
they should wash hands to prevent illnesses. Learners are guided on how to keep a
simple journal every time they observe healthy habits.
Parents and teachers can check to be sure they are washing their hands and keeping
the records as required. Already, the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development
(KICD) has developed parental empowerment and engagement guidelines that
would improve how the teachers interact with parents to facilitate effective
The topic on food guides learners in choosing fruits from their locality and
cleaning before eating. Emphasis is on the need to wash hands before cleaning the
fruits. Hand washing emphasized as a good behavior during mealtimes.
In grade 2, learners are introduced to the concept of minimizing wastage of
resources at home. They practically make and use a soap gel to wash their hands,
which is more hygienic to use as opposed to sharing a bar soap. Pieces of soap can
be used to prepare the soap gel that can be dispensed from a container without
getting contaminated like solid soap. Safety education focuses on washing hands
before handling cooked food.