Johannesburg, 26 June 2017 – In response to the need for improved hygiene and sanitation habits in schools, Unilever and the Department of Basic Education announced a five year partnership with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at Skeen Primary School in Alexandra. The MoU will see the launch of the Unilever National Schools Hygiene and Sanitation Programme, which will bring with it substantial advancement in providing hygiene education to every grade one learner in the country. This initiative forms part of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) goal aimed at helping more than one billion people to improve their health and wellbeing by 2020.
The programme, which will support the curriculum, will be rolled out from September 2017 to 15 000 public primary schools across the country. This will be implemented in class by teachers through a proven behaviour change model, with product provision from Lifebuoy, Domestos and Mentadent to enable the practise of improved hygiene habits by children.
Lifebuoy has already educated over 2 million children in 4000 schools about the importance of handwashing with soap, with its School of 5 programme, while Domestos’ Germ Busters Club programme and Cleaner Toilets Brighter Future campaign have touched over 400 000 children in 475 South African schools. Oral hygiene brand, Mentadent will build on the success of these highly successful hygiene education programmes, by teaching on the importance of brushing teeth twice daily to prevent oral decay.
“The Unilever National Schools Hygiene & Sanitation Programme is designed to help kids stay healthy and get a better education by avoiding the kinds of preventable infections that too often mean they miss school,” said Paul Polman, Global Chief Executive Officer of Unilever. “It’s great to see this partnership going country wide with the Department of Basic Education after our successful pilot in 31 schools last year as Unilever is strongly committed to such partnerships with our portfolio of sustainable living brands to help build a brighter future for all South Africans”.
Children were encouraged to complete a 21-day behaviour change programme at school and at home with their families. Following the pilot, principals and schoolteachers reported a notable decrease in illness and an improvement in school attendance.
“This programme is vitally important as it inculcates healthy and hygienic habits in our learners. Children who are healthy can attend school more regularly and participate actively in everyday learning activities at school. The famous British nurse Florence Nightingale reformed the healthcare system with something as simple as washing hands, today washing your hands regularly with soap is recognized as a cost effective, essential tool for achieving good health. It's so simple and I am very pleased that we are able to partner with Unilever on this essential project.” said Angie Matsie Motshekga, Minister of Basic Education.
Principal of MC Weiler Primary School in Soweto, Gauteng reported positive changes in the children’s hygiene behavior both at school and at home and an increase in school attendance following the programme. He said that he noticed a major shift in the children’s attitude to hygiene and sanitation and that parental support for the programme had helped to keep children practicing good habits.
Unilever’s commitment to creating a bright future is at the heart of the company’s Sustainable Living Plan, which is now in its seventh year and is part of the company’s blueprint for achieving a vision to grow their business, whilst decoupling environmental footprint from their growth and increasing positive social impact.
Department of Basic Education:
Troy Martens – 079 899 3070 / Elijah Mhlanga – 083 580 8275
Charmaine du Plessis
079 492 5550