Pri­mary schools hy­giene pro­gramme launched

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - MASABATA MKWANANZI @Sa­bie_M

IN RE­SPONSE to the need for im­proved hy­giene and san­i­ta­tion habits in schools, Unilever and the De­part­ment of Ba­sic Education have part­nered to launch the Na­tional Schools Hy­giene and San­i­ta­tion Pro­gramme.

Yes­ter­day, a me­moran­dum of un­der­stand­ing was signed at Skeen Pri­mary School in Alexan­dra, an­nounc­ing a fiveyear part­ner­ship be­tween the two.

It will pro­vide hy­giene education to ev­ery Grade 1 learner in the coun­try. This ini­tia­tive forms part of the Unilever Sus­tain­able Liv­ing Plan goal to help more than a billion peo­ple im­prove their health and well-be­ing by 2020.

The pro­gramme will sup­port the cur­ricu­lum and be rolled out from Septem­ber to 15 000 pub­lic pri­mary schools across the coun­try. It is de­signed to help kids stay healthy and get a bet­ter education by avoid­ing pre­ventable in­fec­tions that too of­ten mean they miss school.

Unilever prod­ucts such as Lifebuoy soap have al­ready ed­u­cated over 2 mil­lion chil­dren in 4 000 schools about the im­por­tance of wash­ing hands with soap. Oral hy­giene brand Men­tadent will help teach chil­dren the im­por­tance of brush­ing teeth twice daily to pre­vent oral de­cay.

“Unilever is com­mit­ted to work­ing with oth­ers to help build a brighter future for all South Africans,” said global chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Paul Pol­man.

Chil­dren were en­cour­aged to com­plete a 21-day pi­lot be­hav­iour-change pro­gramme at schools and at home. Prin­ci­pals and teach­ers re­ported a notable de­crease in ill­ness and im­prove­ment in school at­ten­dance.

Ba­sic Education Min­is­ter Angie Mot­shekga said the pro­gramme was vi­tal.

“Wash­ing your hands reg­u­larly with soap is recog­nised as a cost-ef­fec­tive tool for achiev­ing good health. It’s so sim­ple and I’m pleased we’re able to part­ner with Unilever on this es­sen­tial project,” she said.

Added Pol­man: “Unilever’s com­mit­ment to cre­at­ing a bright future is at the heart of the com­pany’s Sus­tain­able Liv­ing Plan.

“Now in its sev­enth year, it is the com­pany’s blue­print for grow­ing the busi­ness, de­cou­pling en­vi­ron­men­tal foot­print from growth, and in­creas­ing pos­i­tive so­cial im­pact.”

PIC­TURE: SIMPHIWE MBOKAZI

CLEAN­ING UP: Min­is­ter of Ba­sic Education Angie Mot­shekga and Unilever SA ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent Luc Olivier launch the Na­tional Schools Hy­giene and San­i­ta­tion Pro­gramme in Alexan­dra.

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