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There is a direct connection between environmental quality, comfort, health and wellbeing, positive attitudes and behaviour and higher levels of educational performance. It is based on the premise that children have a right to basic facilities such as school toilets, safe drinking water, clean surroundings and information on hygiene. If these conditions are created, children come to school, enjoy learning, learn better and take back to their families concepts and practices on sanitation and hygiene. Emerging evidence suggests that environmental conditions that create a sense of “well-being” and send a “caring message” contribute directly to positive attitudes and elevated performance as measured by fewer health complaints, improved student attendance, teacher retention, and higher test scores.

Mostly school facilities have environmental problems caused by water intrusion, inoperable heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems, and ineffective or non-existent cleaning programmes. These conditions adversely affect indoor environmental quality. Moisture control, as it affects indoor environmental quality and the human condition, must receive increased attention as it relates to growing concern over asthma. Schools should reinforce and encourage ‘Rapid Drying’, particularly in sensitive environments such as schools, because it is critical to the successful management of indoor environments, bio-pollutants and ultimately, the protection of health.

Environmental quality of a school is a matter of “willingness to pay” for the management – necessary to keep the school environment healthy. There is growing evidence that when a school building is in disrepair, teaching and student achievement suffers. Schools often elect to postpone repairs and delay construction of new facilities. Making cuts in repair, maintenance and cleaning is mistakenly considered less devastating than slashing academic programmes.

The consequences of choosing to defer school maintenance include premature building deterioration, poor indoor air, increased repair and replacement costs and reduced operating efficiency of equipment. The price tag for deferring school maintenance has two very big and unacceptable costs. First, the health effect and poor educational performance cost. Second, the cost of accelerated damages and premature replacement of the school facility itself.

The main causes of environmentally related illness in schools are water, food sources for the various bio-pollutants, non-existent or ineffective cleaning and poor ventilation. Assessment of environmental risk in school environments must not be done in a short-sighted manner. A high level of housekeeping and maintenance are essential in making the classrooms work. Good indoor air quality in schools is an important component of a healthy indoor environment. It contributes to a favourable learning environment for students, productivity for teachers and staff, and a sense of comfort, health, and well-being. These elements combine to assist a school in its core mission – educating children. The definition of good indoor air quality management includes control of airborne pollutants, introduction and distribution of adequate outdoor air and maintenance of acceptable temperature and relative humidity. Failure to respond quickly and effectively to IAQ problems can lead to numerous adverse health, cost and educational process consequences. Children may be especially susceptible to air pollution. The same concentration of pollutants can result in higher body burden in children than adults because children breathe a greater volume of air relative to their body weight.

Lion Services Ltd, flagship company of the Global Excellence Group is providing these services to many renowned Schools and Academic Institutions in India.

JPS Bakshi

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