High incidence of diarrhoeal diseases has been noted among secondary school students in Nigeria. The place of contaminated hands in the transmission of these diseases especially living quarter with close proximity like schools has been observed. These diseases can be prevented if students wash their hands with running water and soap. This cross-sectional survey was designed to determine to what extent secondary school students in Ebonyi State practice proper handwashing. The sample comprised 420 male and female students in both junior and senior classes selected through a multi-sampling method from government schools, located in both urban and rural area of the Ebonyi State were used for the study. The instrument for data collection was a 3-point scaled, 18-item self-structured questionnaire eliciting responses on extent of handwashing with soap and running water in 15 situations requiring handwashing. Face validation of the instrument was obtained by the judgement of 5 experts. The reliability of the instrument was determined using Cronbach Alpha, which yielded 0.862 reliability coefficient. The copies of the questionnaire were distributed among the students at an agreed upon time with the school by trained research assistance. The extent of handwashing practice was determined using the criterion means of 2.01-3.0 as high extent, 1.01-2.0 as low extent and 0.1-1.0 as very low extent. T-test statistic was used to test the hypotheses at 0.05 alpha level. The extent of handwashing was found to be low among secondary school students with a mean score of 1.31. It was found that male students practice handwashing significantly higher than their female counterparts and that there was no significant difference in handwashing practice of student by level of study of students and by location of residence of the students. The findings of the study have implications for the handwashing campaign in Nigeria, the health of the students, method of health education and hygiene education curriculum development. Recommendations were made which included that handwashing be promoted using the mass media, improvement on hygiene education curriculum and its delivery and provision of handwashing facilities for schools to concretize learning.
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