News / South Africa / Education

Citizen Reporter
Reporter
2 minute read
15 Oct 2021
1:15 pm

Education department, Unilever join forces to rebrand the letter ‘H’ in schools

Citizen Reporter

'It’s encouraging to see more learners adopting regular handwashing with soap at school – especially in the context of Covid-19.'

Picture: iStock

Discussions are being held to change the way the letter “H” is taught in schools.

In a statement released on Friday, Nitin Besesar, senior brand manager of personal care at Unilever, said they had been working with the Department of Basic Education, Unicef, the African Publishers Association and Publishers Association of South Africa to change the way the letter “H” is taught in schools, to “H” is for “handwashing”, to make “handwashing” a more fundamental aspect of education from an early age.

Over four million Grade 1 learners in 15,000 schools have now received handwashing behaviour change education since 2018 through the National Schools Hygiene & Sanitation Programme – an initiative in partnership with Unilever and the education department.

To mark Global Handwashing Day, representatives from the department and Lifebuoy met at Zimasa Primary School in Langa, Cape Town, on Friday to commemorate the expansion of the programme in the Western Cape, to include a further 224,040 Grade 1 learners in 1,327 schools.

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“It’s encouraging to see more learners adopting regular handwashing with soap at school – especially in the context of Covid-19. We, together with our partners, have been doing our best to ensure learners understand the importance of regular handwashing and have access to soap and water at school.

“With the expansion of the programme into the Western Cape, we hope to impact even more learners and their communities with this lifesaving information,” said Dr Granville Whittle, deputy director-general for care and support in schools at the department.

Programme facilitators visited 25 schools in Gauteng, Free State, Mpumalanga and North West for monitoring and evaluation and reported a positive uptake and increase in handwashing – not just in Grade 1’s taking part in the programme – but throughout the grades.

Staff at the schools report that the handwashing programme is clearly benefiting learners and stats from Gauteng show a 60% overall positive impact on learners’ hygiene behaviour, general health and absenteeism.