Basic Education Minister, Mrs Angie Motshekga, joined by the Ambassador of the United States, Mrs Lana Marks, officially handed over three handwashing facilities to Slovoville Primary School in Roodepoort on 01 December 2020.
The Department of Basic Education (DBE) and The United States Office of Defense Cooperation (USODC), have entered into a partnership to provide water tanks to 131 schools in Limpopo, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces. This was made possible through a $225 000 (approximately R3 750 000.00) donation by the USODC to reach out to the identified schools, in a bid to combat the spread of COVID-19. So far, water tanks have been distributed to 47 schools in KwaZulu-Natal, 42 in Limpopo and 42 in the Eastern Cape Province. In addition, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) assisted in the construction of 150 community hand-washing stations in Gauteng, North West, Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces. The project was expanded, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, to install hand-washing and hygiene facilities, with related risk communications programming at 80 schools in Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Limpopo provinces. The partnership enhances the efforts by government to enable schools to meet the health and safety requirements to operate after COVID-19 closures and to continue to protect both learners and teachers from the spread of the virus.
In her address, Minister Motshekga acknowledged the contribution made by the United States Government, saying that it would assist learners in maintaining a culture of hand-washing within the schooling environment. She further urged learners to continue adhering to COVID-19 regulations during the entire festive season. “The state of schooling during 2020 has been very tough. I therefore urge you to remain safe and continue with the habit of reading while at home” highlighted Minister Motshekga. Ambassador Marks indicated that South Africa is a strategic partner of the United States, with strong collaboration in the areas of health, education, environment, and digital economy. “We are not exaggerating anything when we say the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic is firmly in our hands. It is proven by science that increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of hand-washing with soap is a sure way to prevent a specific class of diseases such as COVID-19. The beauty of it is that hand-washing is a potent non-pharmaceutical measure that is freely available and affordable,” remarked the Ambassador. The UNICEF Deputy Country Representative, Ms Muriel Mafico, applauded the Basic Education Sector for having ensured that schools were equipped with necessary Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) as South Africa gradually moved from level 5 to level 1 of the National Lockdown. “As UNICEF, we are honoured to work with the Department of Basic Education in combating COVID-19,” remarked Ms Mafico.