Theatre Arts Project Topics

Theatre as a Tool for Communicating Hand Washing Among Primary School Pupils



1.3 Objectives of the study

The aim of this research is to use theatre as a tool and medium to communicate hand washing to primary school pupils and to see how effective the theatre which encompasses drama, storytelling, songs and role play can be use to achieve this habit among the children.

More specifically, these following objective were formulated;

  1. To help children inculcate hand washing as a habit that will help enhance their personal hygiene toward healthy living and lifestyle.
  2. Using theatre as a tool to communicate and teach children the importance of personal hygiene and the need to stay healthy and why it should be started at a young age.
  3. To score the importance of theatre to children and how it can serve as a platform for learning and not just for entertainment.



2.1    Introduction 

Many strategies have been designed and evaluated to address the problem of low hand hygiene (HH) compliance with most of these strategies conflicting as most effective but how they really work are still unclear. Healthcare associated infections account for approximately 80,000 deaths per year in the United States. A world wide systematic review found that the incidence of health care- associated infection ranged from 1.7 to 23.6 per 100 patients, hospital costs directly related to health care associated infections ranged from $28.4 to $33.8 billion in 2007 U.S dollars. Yet these infections are frequently preventable through hand hygiene.

Substantial epidemiologic evidence supports that hand hygiene reduces the transmission of healthcare-associated pathogens and the incidence of healthcare-associated infections. The link between hand hygiene and improvements in healthcare-associated infections is hard to prove definitively in modern day health care. However, the importance of hand hygiene is universally acknowledged by organizations such as the Joint Commission, World Health Organization (W.H.O) and Centers for Diseases Control (C.D.C), which recommend or require hand hygiene practices and interventions to improve hand hygiene compliance in order to reduce health care- acquired infections. This review will therefore focus on interventions to improve compliance with hand hygiene rather than on the efficacy of hand hygiene for reducing heath care- associated infections. Compliance with hand hygiene practices among health care workers has historically been very low, averaging 39percent. The review on hand hygiene compliance and intervention aimed improving it that was conducted for the original (2001) “making health care safer” report found that poor compliance has been documented in studies across hospital unit types and in various other settings workers tends to underestimate the importance of compliance and often over estimate their compliance with hand hygiene procedure, the report concluded that future research studies needed to identify reasons for poor compliance and design sustainable intervention that target these factors.

2.1.2 Hand Hygiene Compliance

Hand hygiene is a general term for removing micro organisms with a disinfecting agent such as alcohol or soap and water. Hand hygiene should be conducted by health care workers before seeing patients majorly after contact with bodily fluids, before invasive procedures and after removing glove. The WHO offers a slight variation by recommending five key moments when health care workers should practice hand hygiene: before patient contact, before an aseptic task, after bodily fluid exposure risk, after patient contact and after contact with patient surroundings. The National Quality Forum “safe practices for better health care 2010 update” and the Joint Commission recommends that organizations should implement C.D.C or WHO guidelines, encourage staff compliance with guidelines with category II evidence, and ensure that staffcomply with organizational rules regarding hand hygiene. Advocates of hand hygiene improvement interventions recommend that multimodal interventions are needed to induce sustained hand-hygiene practice improvement should be based on theories of behavioral change, on individual level, the intervention should target provider education and motivation regarding hand hygiene practices.

Lancet Global Health, volume 2, issue 3, march 2014 page 11 & 19: Diarrhea and respiratory infections are the two biggest causes of child death globally hand washing with soap could substantially reduce diarrhea and respiratory infections, but prevalence of adequate hand washing is low.

Elli Leontsini, Peter J. Winch in a test of hand washing with soap by emotional drivers, tested if scalable village-level intervention based on emotional drivers of behavior, rather than knowledge, could improve hand washing behavior in rural India. The study was done in Chittoor district in southern Andhra Pradesh, India, between May 24, 2011 and September 10, 2012. Eligible villages had a population of 700-200 people, a state-run primary school for children aged 8-13 years, and a pre-school for children younger than

5years. 14 villages (clusters) were selected, stratified by population size (<1200 vs > 1200) and randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to intervention or control. Clusters were enrolled by the study manager. Random allocation was by the study statistician using a random number of generators. The intervention included community and school-based events in cooperating an animated film, skits and public pledging ceremonies which is part of theatre outcomes were measured by direct observation in 20-25 households per village at baseline and at three follow-up visits (6 weeks, 6 month and 12 months after the intervention)

Observers had no connection with the intervention and observers and participant households were told that the study was about domestic water use to reduce the risk of bias. No masking was possible. The primary outcome was the proportion of hand washing with soap at key events (after defecation, after cleaning a child’s bottom, before food preparation and before eating), at all follow-up visits, the control villages received a shortened version of the intervention before the final follow – up round out come data are presented as village- level means.

2.1.3 Hand washing and Hygiene

Hand washing with soap at key events was rare at baseline in both the intervention and control groups (1% to 2% at 6 weeks follow-up, hand washing with soap at key events was more common in the intervention group than in the control group. this study shows that substantial increases in hand washing with soap can be achieved using a scalable intervention based on emotional drivers. Improved hand hygiene has the potential to reduce morbidity and mortality from infections spread by oral routes and person to person contact. Infections preventable by improved hand hygiene include gastrointestinal infections and respiratory infections and trachoma, fatal neo natal infections, and possibly norm infections. Diarrhea and respiratory infections remain the two most important causes of child death globally. Improved hand hygiene can also improve the child development and school attendance.




3.0 Introduction

This provides a description of how the field work of this study was carried out. The researcher worked with pupils of Staff School Ahmadu Bello University Samaru Zaria, where they were involved in games and exercises, role play, storytelling, songs and drama with emphasis on hand washing and its importance to them and their health. Below presents the whole range of activities that took place in the course of this field work.

3.1    The Arrival/ Preliminary Visit

The researcher meets with the various relevant authority of the primary school to seek the permission to work with selected primary five (5) and six (6) pupils. As a result of the busy schedules of the school such as the teaching hours, and time table of the concerned classes, the two days and time selected for the researcher, fell during the break periods.



4.0    Introduction 

This chapter provides a description of how the field work was carried out and it will also give analyses of the result gotten from the field work in the study.  The researcher worked with the pupils of Demonstration Primary school, Ahmadu Bello University Samaru, Zaria, where they were involved in exercises, storytelling, role-playing and dances as well as discussion with emphasis on hand washing and its importance to them and their personal hygiene.

Below presents the whole range of activities and responses gotten from the field work.

4.1    The Preliminary Visit 

In carrying out the field work, the researcher went through a process to arrive at the result and responses gotten in this research.  Having identified the school to work with the researcher met the various relevant authorities of the school with an introductory letter to seek for permission to work with primary five (5) and six (6) pupils of the school. After series of meetings with the school authority, the request was granted.



5.1    Summary 

This research work has examined;

Theatre as a tool for communicating hand washing among primary school pupils, it therefore presents theatre as not just a mere genre, but a distinct one among many. It is the only genre in which today and everybody, now and always, living human beings address and speak to other human beings. Understanding that theatre is a medium which human beings interact, communicate, socialize and even transact, makes it unique and a point of emphasis of this study. More than just a performance of stories and tales; this is a place for human encounter, a space for authentic human existence. Theatre can also be seen as building where live performance take place such as play productions, dance and songs performances.

Hand washing is one of the most important practices to personal hygiene that helps reduce germs and keep us healthy, especially children because of their playful and exploring life-style because they are easily exposed to dirt.

Even though traditional mediums has tried to address the issue of hand washing, it has failed to reach the grassroots as they are cut-off from mediums like the Television, Radio, Bill-boards, Magazines, Newspapers and cinemas, due to science and technological growth that brought social, economical and geographical change. In the society, this also lead to change in mode and medium of communication, this also comes with its own limitations such as network barriers that make it difficult and inaccessible to the grassroots people as a result of this barriers and limitations, this research has focused on how theatre can be used as a tool for communication and to bridge a gap or poor hygiene practice. This gap between human beings in their various social environment (the urban, cities and villages) such as the urban people and grassroots people on important issues of health, economic, social behaviours, politics and environment.

It further focuses on using theatre to communicate hand washing among primary school pupils. Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many diseases conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean running water. Kids and even adults do not sometimes heed to the advice to always wash their hands before eating and after using the bathroom or toilet, or when they come inside from playing. But it is a message worth repeating – hand washing is by far the best way to prevent germs from spreading and to keep kids from getting sick.

A number of infectious diseases including gastrointestinal infections, such as salmonella, and respiratory infections, such as influenza. Washing your hands properly can help prevent the spread of germs (like bacteria and viruses) that cause these diseases. Some forms of gastrointestinal and respiratory infections can cause serious complications especially for young children, the elderly, or those with a weakened immune system.

When to wash your hands

You should wash your hands thoroughly:  After using the toilet or changing napkins  Before, during and after preparing food.

  • After handling rubbish or working in the garden.
  • After handling animals How to wash your hands:
  • Wet your hands with clean water
  • Apply soap and lather well for twenty (20) seconds.
  • Rub hands together rapidly across all surfaces of your hands and wrist. Do not forget the back of your hands, and wrists. Do not forget the back of your hands, your wrists, between the back of your hands, your wrist, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
  • If possible, remove rings and watches before you wash your hands, or ensure you move the rings to wash under them, as micro organisms can exist under them.
  • Rinse well under running water and make sure all traces of soap are removes.

5.2    Conclusion 

The finding from this research work confirms and shows that Theatre can be used as a tool for communication. From the practical field work analysis; in chapter three and the third objective of this study was accomplished as regards the scoring of the importance of theatre to children and how it can serve as a platform for learning and not just for entertainment.  The Theatre that was deployed in this research work includes: games and exercises as theatrical activities, and dance, storytelling, role-playing and above all the hand washing exercise.

Also in chapter three, the first and second objectives of this research were achieved. The research was able to teach children the importance of personal hygiene and the need to stay healthy, and why they should start washing their hands at young age, because starting it at the younger age will register and stay with them, in their minds and thoughts till adulthood.

According to Frank Outlaw, watch your thoughts, they become words, watch your actions, they become habits, watch your habits, they become character, watch your character, they become destiny. Understanding this fact by the children makes it easier that hand washing can be a habit if they engage in it regularly and it will become part and parcel of their life style. It will help them stay healthy all through life’s journey.

5.3    Recommendation

In view of the use of Theatre as a tool and medium of communicating hand washing among primary school pupils, the importance and strength of Theatre to educate, and also entertain cannot be overemphasized, this research work is limited to the children in primary schools, which might give rise to questions such as:

  • Why children alone, what about adults?
  • What about those children, that is not in classrooms with their teachers?

In relation to all these, the research work admonishes:

  1. Parent/guardians to serve as models and agent of change and good teachers to their wards/children to help those young ones at home by teaching them hand washing and making it an interesting exercise. Also, as models; by washing their hands regularly for the young ones to emulate.
  2. Primary, secondary and tertiary institutions should make provisions for washing of hands in the basins and sink in their various classrooms and lecture theatres with water and soap to encourage hand washing.
  3. Primary and secondary schools should encourage hand washing by introducing it as part of their mandatory daily and regular activity and exercise.

This research work is also recommended for further study and review by other researchers and agencies such as Non-governmental Organizations (N.G.O.s), the Government Ministry on Health, Health Organizations and even advertising agencies to further strengthen this habit among individuals.


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  • Amj, Trop (2007) Medical Hygiene.  pg. 1166-1173.
  • Cowling, KH, Chan, VJ Fang, et al., Facemasks and hand Hygiene to prevent Influenza transmission in Households: A cluster Randomised trial.
  • Campbell, Joseph (1949). The Hero with a Thousand Face. New York Bollingen Foundation.
  • CEO’ Reilly, MC Freeman, M. Ravani, et al. (2011), Emerging Infections Discourse, 17 pp, 619-625.
  • Epidemiologic Infections, (2008), pp, 80-91 The Impact of a School-based safe water and Hygiene Programme on Knowledge and Practices of Students and their parent Nyanza province, western Kenya).
  • M.T. Alaat, S.A. Fifi, E. Dueger, et al., Effects of Hand Hygiene campaigns on incidence of laboratory – confirmed influenza an absenteeism in school Children, Cairo Egypt).


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