In an effort to address the lack of health and sanitation awareness in our schools, Adopt-a-School Foundation has designed a sustainable and holistic programme to address some of these critical issues facing our learners. At its Back to School fundraising party in 2015, over R700 000 was raised to launch this project. This project will run in 20 High Schools and will address issues of basic puberty education, menstruation and sexuality education. It will also address issues of physical, emotional and sexual abuse and drug abuse.
Every year a new group of learners reach puberty stage and so many of our learners do not have access to health and sexuality education. This results in compounding social and health related issues. While the puberty stage involves a series of biological or physical transformations, the process also has an effect on the psychological and social development in which the young person begins to establish his or her independence and own identity. This is a time when they begin to evaluate their personal strength and weaknesses, create long term goals, and make decisions about their future. It is also a time where their schooling career demands their attention, in order for them to receive a quality basic education.
For many girls from disadvantaged background the onset of puberty marks a sharp decline in school attendance and could even lead to their dropping out of school completely. Adopt-a-School Foundation conducted a mini assessment in three primary schools, namely: Bathabile Primary School (Gauteng), Phangindawo and Ntshidi Primary Schools (KwaZulu-Natal). Here the Foundation’s Programme Manager and Social Worker facilitated a workshop on puberty education. From the 379 girls who attended the workshop; most of them indicated that they do not use sanitary pads as their parents cannot afford to buy them and are using the following items as alternatives:
- A cloth
- Toilet paper and
- One pad the whole day
Most girls indicated that their menstruation period is so uncomfortable that they would rather stay at home.
One of the even more serious issues in our schools is the rise of teenage pregnancy. The most recent available statistic is the report of 99 000 cases of teenage pregnancy in 2013. This is most definitely a crisis in our schools and one that has a great impact on the performance of our learners.
Adopt-a-School’s project will launch in April 2016 and continue throughout the year. You can make your contribution to our Health and Sanitation Programme in disadvantaged schools here.