Healthy hands, healthy minds


Emfundisweni Primary School with an enrollment of 1 500 schoolchildren commended their partnership with consumer goods company Unilever for improving the health and hygiene of its children which has reduced absenteeism.

Most of the children are poor and susceptible to the health and environmental hazards of hostels and shacks. The challenge is further compounded by germs and other preventable diseases they contract when playing in contaminated soil at school if they don’t adhere to basic health and hygiene standards.

The school’s principal Thembakazi Giyama said the partnership, launched at Skeen Primary School in Alex in July by the Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga, was part of the health and hygiene programme of the department started in 2015 as part of the Life Orientation curriculum.

“It has reduced absenteeism and late coming drastically through children’s improved health and awareness of the importance of keeping the school environment and toilets clean,” said Giyama. “This, through a supply of Domestos from the company for cleaning the toilets and a R10 000 grant used to buy soap, water basins and towels for the children’s use to clean their hands before and after meals and using the toilets, and playing in suspected contaminated places.”

She added that children also received regular health and hygiene lessons in class, and anti-littering awareness by the school’s environment committee, a practice they hopefully applied at home. She urged the company to keep faith in the school as the programme’s results had maximised class attendance, improved children’s health and had the potential to also improve that of their families and the community which they shared toilets and water points with.

The company’s representative Ant Barstlap said the initiative was a global outreach programme to improve conditions for future generations especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. She added that health conditions and good quality education would ensure children’s inclusion and participation in a future world.

The aim is to include other government departments and the private sector to expand the impact on particularly primary schoolchildren who are most susceptible to preventable diseases.

Details: Emfundisweni Primary School 011 443 5338.

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