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Deputy Minister Mhaule outlines the benefits of hand washing in schools

The washing of hands with water and soap is critical to fight germs and all forms of bacteria, as well as prevent COVID-19 infection in schools. Deputy Minister for the Department of Basic Education, Dr Reginah Mhaule, led a team of education stakeholders to the Mpumalanga Province on 12 October 2021, to remind learners about the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle, owing to hand washing. As part of her participation in the Global Hand Washing Initiative, Deputy Minister Mhaule also officiated the handover of two hand washing stations to Chayaza Secondary School. The event was made possible by the DBE, in partnership with UNICEF, MiET and Woolworths.

Deputy Minister Mhaule also highlighted that a culture of washing hands with water and soap should be re-emphasised across all nine provinces, with a dedicated focus for schools in remote areas. “Learners should be well oriented to spend at least 20 seconds washing their hands to fight against germs and COVID-19 simultaneously. The initiative plays a significant role in re-capacitating schools to obtain proper resources to promote hand washing amongst learners,” added Deputy Minister Mhaule.

“Grade 12 learners will be sitting for the National Senior Certificate (NSC) Examinations within a few days, and schools across all nine provinces are hard at work to recover learning losses using matric catch-up intervention programmes. Dr Mhaule, also delivered a special message to Grade 12 learners at the school, urging them to strive towards excellence: “Success comes with a lot of sacrifices; therefore, you will need to prioritise your studies over entertainment sources such as television programmes, social media and prolonged socialisation with friends,” she said. The Provincial Education Department (PED) was applauded for having conducted several learner support programmes, aimed at recovering learning losses. In preparation for the examinations, PEDs have been conducting Saturday Classes, Winter and Spring Camps to improve quality learning outcomes during 2021. Deputy Minister Mhaule said that learners should continue to adhere to COVID-19 restrictions to remain safe at examination centres across all nine provinces. “As the Education Sector, we wish you all the best; we are confident that you will indeed make the nation proud,” motivated the Deputy Minister. 

Global Hand Washing Day is celebrated annually on 15 October to motivate and mobilise millions around the globe to wash their hands frequently with soap and water. This campaign aims at raising awareness within communities, households, schools, and workplaces to wash their hands with soap and water to prevent life-threatening disease and infection. “Studies have shown that 60% of South Africans do not wash their hands with soap after visiting the bathroom or before they eat, and those that do, do not use soap. This means that efforts must be made to encourage a behavioural change and for people to actively engage in good hand hygiene practices, as part of the overall promotion of good health. Global Hand Washing Day therefore provides an opportunity to put the spotlight on the importance of good handwashing and hygiene, and its link to health,” said Director for Health Promotion, Mr Stanley Ndlovu.

In addition, the DBE launched the National Schools Hygiene Programme (NSHP) and kick started the extended Hand Hygiene Programme at Zimasa Primary School in Langa Township, Cape Town on 15 October 2021. The DBE’s implementation of the NSHP is an initiative supported by Unilever through its brands, Lifebuoy, Mentadent P and Domestos. This programme involves a 21-day behaviour change intervention in class regarding the washing of hands with soap, brushing of teeth with a toothbrush and toothpaste and the proper cleaning of school toilets.

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