Dates for assembly

30th January 2004 at 00:00
February 6: Day for Change

This year, the national "non-uniform day" focuses on the needs of children in Ghana and Vietnam.

Outline script for assembly leader

When you flush a lavatory, it uses at least 10 litres of water. If you wash your hands properly under a running tap, it uses seven litres. A car-wash uses well over 100 litres. In many Third World countries, millions of people do not have access to even one cup of clean water.

In countries where clean water is in short supply, animals bathe and clothes are washed in the same streams or ponds that serve as the drinking supply. Where there is dirty water, flies that carry eye infections breed rapidly. Dirty water also breeds the bacteria that cause diarrhoeal diseases, to which babies are especially vulnerable.

This year, around the world, three million children younger than five are expected to die because of dehydration (loss of water) due to diarrhoeal disease. That's 8,000 deaths today alone. Yet four or five teaspoonfuls of sugar and one teaspoon of salt dissolved in one litre of water would save each of those lives.

This simple mixture is called oral rehydration therapy (ORT). ORT sachets cost 7p each and five of them will treat a child who is severely dehydrated. pound;2 will buy 28 sachets, and will save the lives of up to six children. pound;75 is enough to buy water purification tablets to give one litre of drinkable water to each of 800 children.

Each year, Unicef, the United Nations organisation which works to help children around the world, holds a "day for change" to try to change things for the better. On this day, students can come to school wearing something they do not normally wear, provided they make a small contribution to the Unicef appeal. This year, the appeal will help children in Ghana (where young girls must walk miles each day to fetch drinking water) and Vietnam (where children suffer from cholera and dysentery).

Follow up

Schools can register to take part at www.;sb=localfunamp;pg=rfschools or tel: 0870 606 3377. They will receive a resource pack which suggests activities and provides lesson plans and display materials. The site also provides links to the Unicef children of Iraq appeal. Last year, schools raised more than pound;400,000.

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