According to 2014 National Education Infrastructure Management System Standard Report, 49% of public schools in South Africa either have no sanitation facilities or are forced to rely on pit latrines or a combination of pit latrines and other facilities.
This startling report could continue to plague our public schools, if partnership with Domestos does not come-forth.
As part of its national campaign, Domestos and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are rolling out programmes to strengthen the capacity of South African schools through the provision of improved sanitation.
In Soweto recently, the programme targeted St Peter Claver in Pimville, whose toilets were refurbished and improved sanitation thereof.
According to Glen Lewis who also hails from Pimville but did not attend the said school, his involvement is to create awareness and encourage good work Domestos has done in schools nationally.
Better celebrated as Metro FM DJ, Lewis who has been with the campaign for three months, says sanitation and poor infrastructure in schools, not only in rural areas, is of grave concern.
“It is our wish to curb this national problem facing our schools and companies such as Domestos should be applauded for taking such an initiative very serious,” he said during telephonic interview.
This is the fourth year Domestos has been rolling out the programme and over 26 schools nationally, has had toilets refurbished.
Horrifying stories from learners are that 4 681 are forced to do with an unreliable water supply and 604 have no water.
His concern on the poor, says Glen, is state of sanitation in public schools is based on the fact that children are avoiding going to the toilet because of poor sanitation facilities (or their lack), which has led to poor concentration in class and health problems.
This is based on the fact that out of the over 24 000 public schools in South Africa, only 8000 have flushing toilets.
Water and sanitation-related diseases such as diarrhoea remain the biggest killers of children across the globe. Accounting for 9% of all deaths among children under the age 5 worldwide in 2015, these infections continue to prevail as 18 million South Africans do not have access to adequate sanitation facilities.
The partnership between Unilever- Domestos mother company- and UNICEF aims to address this situation.
UNICEF’s representative to South Africa, Herve Ludovic de Lys, notes that: “Water and sanitation-related diseases remain among the world’s biggest killers, especially of children. But sanitation is about more than just building toilets – it starts with basic hygiene and personal care.
At least 2.5 billion people in the world still do not have access to adequate sanitation, almost two fifths of the world’s population. Everyone can play their part by supporting the course and save lives”.
Put to Glen, what was the reaction of students when they visited the school, he said the excitement was palpable, particularly girls, who suffer most when nature calls.
“As a result, men have been hired to look after the toilets to avoid theft and burglary.
If city schools are experiencing such problems, imagine those in rural areas?” he asked with a concern.
At the ceremony, in attendance were Principal Maureen Lebogana Phati, Deputy Principal- Mandla Clive Mlotywa, Nobuhle Ngubane, Assistant Brand Building Manager, Handy Andy & Domestos and Glen himself.
A parent from North West who did not want her identity revealed, added that a national debate should be held to deal with this stinky issue of sanitation.
The Domestos campaign invites public to vote for their respective school to benefit from the initiative through social media platforms.
Asked if Education and Water& Sanitation departments were involved Glen, said he wasn’t aware but hope they will in future.
Both departments were not readily available for comments at the time of publishing.