Woolworths partners with UNICEF South Africa and the Department of Basic Education, to improve access to handwashing facilities in rural schools

HAYZYVIEW, Mpumalanga, 12 October 2021 – Two new handwashing stations were handed over today to Chayaza Secondary School, Mpumulanga province, by the Deputy Minister of Education, Dr. Makgabo Reginah Mhaule.

The handwashing facilities were funded by Woolworths through its partnership with UNICEF South Africa and will improve hand hygiene for the more than 1,200 learners and 50 educational staff at the school.

To date, the partnership with Woolworths has resulted in 72 new handwashing stations being installed in more than 50 schools across Gauteng, North West and Mpumalanga provinces since the outbreak of COVID-19. The facilities have improved access to handwashing for some 32,000 learners and educational staff.

“We are extremely grateful for this support from Woolworths and UNICEF in improving access to handwashing facilities, particularly in rural schools,” said Deputy Minister Dr. Reginah Mhaule during the handover ceremony at Chayaza Secondary School. “COVID-19 has again highlighted the importance of handwashing with soap to prevent the spread of diseases and with these new facilities learners and educators will be better protected,” Dr. Mhaule added 

The handover of the handwashing stations took place ahead of Global Handwashing Day, 15 October, which is dedicated to reminding people about the importance of handwashing with soap as an easy, effective, and cheap way to prevent diseases and save lives. 

“Woolworths is committed to improving the learning environment for every child,” said Zinzi Mgolodela, Woolworths Director of Corporate Affairs. “Having access to clean water and sanitation at school gives children a healthier start in life and promotes well-being. We would like to thank the Department of Basic Education and UNICEF for giving us this opportunity to make a difference to so many children and educators living in areas where access to handwashing facilities is challenging.” 

Good hand hygiene is proven to be one of the most important measures to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, including bacterial, diarrhoeal and respiratory diseases, such as COVID-19. The support from Woolworths is playing a vital role in the education sectors COVID-19 response to mitigate the transmission of the pandemic and to keep schools as safe as possible.

“It is critical that every learner and educator has access to decent handwashing facilities, which saves lives and helps to keep classrooms open during these COVID-19 days,” said Christine Muhigana, UNICEF South Africa Representative. “This generous support from Woolworths will not only keep learners healthier and safer but also support South Africa’s work towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6 of ensuring access to water and sanitation for all by 2030,” Muhigana added.

About Global Handwashing Day

Commemorated annually on 15 October, this day is dedicated to reminding people about the importance of handwashing with soap as an easy, effective, and cheap way to prevent diseases and save lives.  The theme this year is ‘Our Future is at hand – Let’s move forward together’.