Hands clean, lessons learnt: how Unilever SA helps keep kids in school
The Department of Basic Education and Unilever SA have conducted a classroom tour of the National Schools Hygiene and Sanitation Programme
This week, Vuyani Mpofu, the Gauteng deputy director-general of education; Unilever South Africa CEO Luc-Olivier Marquet; and key stakeholders visited Mikateka Primary School in Midrand to conduct a classroom tour where they joined children taking part in lessons for the newly implemented National Schools Hygiene and Sanitation Programme.
Last year, Unilever and the Department of Basic Education announced a five-year partnership to provide hygiene education to every grade one pupil in government schools. Improved hygiene and sanitation habits in schools will help prevent children from falling ill and missing out on valuable school days.
Visitors to the school on Tuesday included DJ Zinhle and celebrity dentist Dr Smile, who joined the pupils as they took part in lessons teaching healthy hand-washing habits with Lifebuoy; proper oral hygiene with Mentadent; and proper toilet hygiene with Domestos.
“It is truly encouraging to see our learners receiving this valuable education,” said Mpofu. “The programme seems to be resonating well with the children so far and they are enjoying the format, which includes songs, pledges and other engaging activities.
“We look forward to seeing the impact of these lessons in our schools, where we hope to see more healthy children and improved attendance.”
Teachers are implementing the programme through a proven behaviour-change model. Unilever is providing the products to help the children improve their hygiene habits.
“We are really pleased with what we saw today in the classrooms,” said Marquet. “This model has been tested through similar programmes throughout Africa and the world.”
He added: “We are currently working on plans to make the programme content available to even more South Africans, which will be happening in the next four to six weeks.”
Mikateka Primary School principal Mandla Sibanyoni said: “We are very excited to see this programme starting in our school. The children are responding very well to the lessons and I look forward to seeing the results of these important lessons.”
DJ Zinhle and Dr Smile joined the classroom tour to see the programme in action and congratulate the grade one pupils on their diligence. The two will share more information about the programme via their social media platforms in the coming weeks.
South Africans can support the programme until the end of June by buying Domestos, Lifebuoy or Mentadent products at selected Spar stores. Unilever will donate R2 of the proceeds from the product sales to help more schools complete the National Schools Hygiene Programme.
Spar North Rand MD Desmond Borrageiro said: “Spar is really excited to partner with Unilever in the National Schools Hygiene Programme, which demonstrates what can be done when we work collectively for our community and our children. This fits perfectly with our values as a company, as we have always been passionate about making a difference in the communities we serve.”
Marquet added: “The reality is that the small purchasing decisions we make every day can have a big impact on our society. Every purchase of these Unilever products helps us continue this very worthwhile project and improve the lives and education of the future leaders of our country.”
Visit the website to read more about Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan.
This article was paid for by the Department of Basic Education and Unilever SA.