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Health And Welfare

School hygiene and sanitation programme focuses on sustainability

A new maintenance-focused, school sanitation programme called The Cleaner Toilets, Brighter Future Programme has kicked off, with stakeholders joining hands for the benefit of South African schools.

The programme is aimed at improving management and maintenance of sanitation facilities in schools and further increasing awareness of good sanitation and hygiene practices.

Senior Brand Manager of Domestos, Ant Borstlap, says, “Domestos has been actively fighting sanitation problems in the country since 2010, through various hygiene and sanitation programmes, including the building and refurbishment of toilets in local schools.

“The Cleaner Toilets, Brighter Future Programme is taking our sanitation programmes into the next phase. Now we are focused on educating school staff and cleaners on how to keep their toilets clean on an ongoing basis as they continue to practice good hygiene habits. We have once again partnered with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and the engineering consultancy, Partners in Development (PID) who are conducting the training and will be managing the programme.”

The pilot phase is currently underway in 50 Northern Cape schools and 100 Kwa-Zulu Natal schools and will reach an estimated 111 000 learners. “The goal is to see this programme on a much larger scale from 2019 onwards as a key driver for helping to improve access to better hygiene and sanitation,” continues Borstlap.

The Department of Basic Education, in partnership with the provincial departments, selected the participating primary schools which had to meet certain criteria. The schools had to be partially or fully-funded by government, have access to water and be a partner with Domestos in the National Schools Hygiene Programme. The toilets needed to be in a usable condition to show the school’s effort towards improving hygiene habits and the willingness and ability to maintain plumbing or related issues.

Dr Granville Whittle, Deputy Director-General of The Department of Basic Education, says, “Teaching and learning doesn’t involve only the teacher, but support staff and parents whose services contribute directly or indirectly to their children’s educational outcomes.  During the course of day-to-day work, the school cleaners work seems like an endless job of cleaning school facilities that will get dirty again the next day.  As true as this may be, the extent to which the school cleaners are supported to do their job can affect not only the health and safety of the children, but the morale and atmosphere of the entire school, and, to a large extent the educational outcomes of the school.  The DBE appreciates the partnership with Unilever, through its brand, Domestos, to test out this innovation in KwaZulu-Natal and other provinces.”

Sanitation management in this programme is shared between many people, including the principal and the general school cleaner. Domestos will provide a change behaviour programme educating the principals and learners on the need and benefits of improved hygiene and sanitation as well as encourage a collaborated effort to ensure their toilet facilities are maintained.

“As management partners, we will run a four-week training programme for the school cleaners. After completing the training, cleaners will clean the toilets at least once daily, based on set guidelines aimed at preventing disease. They will safely secure cleaning materials and equipment to minimise material and equipment losses and track cleaning activities using administrative forms and verbal communication with the principal. They will also inspect the toilets regularly to address needs timeously,” says PID’s Project Manager, Jeanette Neethling.

The Principal will be required to monitor the programme and sanitation management, and must meet with the cleaner weekly to ensure that he/she has all the resources to maintain the toilets. Domestos will provide the schools with the necessary supplies for two school terms, including:

  • Cleaning supplies: Domestos bleach, scrubbing brushes, toilet brushes, cloths, brooms, mops, and buckets;
  • Safety supplies: gloves and masks for the school cleaner; and
  • Hygiene supplies: bins and bin bags for the toilets and toilet paper for the learners.


Thembalihle Ndimande, Principal of Mzwilili Primary School is excited about the programme. “The Cleaner Toilets, Brighter Future programme is going to benefit our school and all schools involved in a variety of ways.  The programme will assist our school to create a clean and hygienic environment, which is conducive to proper and effective teaching and learning. The programme will also help reduce the financial burden placed on our school because cleaning material is very expensive. The training received by our cleaning staff will change the way in which they deal with hygiene related matters. The is a wonderful experience and we are very grateful to Domestos for involving us in this initiative.”

PID and Domestos will provide the schools with ongoing support during the 2018 school year for sanitation management-related issues. This will include periodic visits by team members during the year.

A transitional workshop will be held at the end of the school year to help the schools carry the learnings from the year forward and maintain hygienic toilets.

“Our programmes aim to improve lives, uplift people and develop communities. Through our partnerships we can widen the skills and resource pool so we can achieve the best results possible. The success of The Cleaner Toilets, Brighter Future Programme will result in savings in infrastructure for upgrading sanitation, as the toilet facilities will be managed better, and in addition, increased school attendance leading to increased pass rates.

“Ultimately, better sanitation means less disease and improved health and well-being. In the future, as we’ve done in the past, we want to improve people’s lives. We’re just finding more ways to do it,” concludes Borstlap.

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