Proper sanitation in schools is far from being achieved in South Africa following the death of 5-year-old Lumka Mketwa in Eastern Cape after she fell into a pit latrine at school.
The Unilever National Schools Hygiene Programme has just been concluded, it was rolled out across schools in SA and placed an emphasis on sanitation amongst other things.
The programme was formed last year as a partnership between Domestos and the Department of Basic Education (DOB). It aimed to reach 15 000 government primary schools nationally in its second year.
The 21-day programme included demonstrations by Unilever brands such as Domestos which were meant to educate children on hygiene and sanitation habits.
These habits were then implemented by Life Orientation teachers in their classes. Children were further encouraged to spread their newfound knowledge amongst their family members and also implement these habits in their own homes.
The programme’s 2018 reading material was in English, however, Domestos and DOB have made plans to include material in different vernacular languages in an effort to make the material more accessible and inclusive.
Last year’s edition of the programme reached 1500 at 31 schools nationally. Teachers at schools who implemented the programme last year say they have seen an improvement in hygiene habits and a decrease in absenteeism and illness that is caused by bacterial awareness.
Domestos launched a programme in 2010 which focuses on rehabilitating toilets at schools and ensuring schools have proper sanitation.
The Cleaner Toilets Brighter Future School Renovation Programme has reached 27 schools since its inception; however, the current situation is still bleak as there are over 9000 schools in SA that lack proper sanitation according to the DOB’s 2016 statistics.
“Proper sanitation is important for a conducive teaching environment. Our jobs as teachers are hard enough without having to worry about the safety of children and a lack of proper sanitation puts their lives at risk,” said Palesa Mathabela, a retired teacher and Protea North resident.
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