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Partnership gives one million learners a brighter future


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Department of Basic Education & Unilever partner to launch the National Schools Hygiene Programme

South Africa Schools Programme

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 provide hygiene education to every grade one learner in the country. This initiative forms part of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) goal to help more than one billion people 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 products provided by Unilever brands Lifebuoy, Domestos and Mentadent to enable the practice 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 children 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 countrywide with the Department of Basic Education and with our portfolio of sustainable living brands after our successful pilot in 31 schools last year. Unilever is strongly committed to working with others 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 during the pilot. Principals and schoolteachers reported a notable decrease in illness and an improvement in school attendance.

South Africa Schools Programme
South Africa Schools Programme

“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.

Seula Mmako Primary School in Khureng Village in Limpopo, one of the participating schools’ principals went as far as saying the children showed love and enjoyment towards the programme and parents were so impressed that they promised to continuously support the habits that their children learnt through the programme.

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.


Issued on behalf of:
The Department of Basic Education and Unilever South Africa

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