According to the United Nations¹ (UN) more than 673 million people do not have access to a flushing toilet and two out of five people do not have a basic hand-washing facility with soap and water. Improving these statistics falls under Sustainable Development Goal #6 (SDG), part of the global initiative to improve access to safe drinking water and sanitation services, recognised as a basic human right by the UN.
However, in many South African public schools, toilet facilities for learners are highly unsanitary, with no privacy due to missing or non-existent doors, no running water, only pit latrines available and no flushing toilets, infringing on their basic human rights. Recognising that providing the access to sanitary bathroom conditions would not only improve conditions according to SDG 6, but would also serve to enhance the learning conditions at the Bhekintuthuko Secondary School, Sumitomo Rubber South Africa (Pty) Ltd, (Sumitomo Dunlop) donated and installed six flushing toilets to the school in October this year.
The school, situated in the rural area of Emcitsheni Reserve, Ezakheni near Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal caters for 1185 learners from grade eight to grade twelve. Mr Madonsela, headmaster at the Bhekintuthuko Secondary School said, “We are grateful that our pupils now have privacy and dignity at school when using the ablution facilities, which we believe will go a long way to improving their educational experience, and general well-being.”
Sumitomo Dunlop, manufacturer of the Dunlop, Sumitomo and Falken tyre brands, undertook the project in partnership with Gift of the Givers who work tirelessly with corporates and individuals to support the needy across South Africa. The company has been actively involved in the upgrading of the school and its facilities for many years. In 2019 a fully fitted matric learner classroom was donated, affording the learners the opportunity to work one-to-a-desk, something that was previously considered a luxury due to a lack of facilities.
Teams of employees from the Ladysmith manufacturing plant visit the Bhekintuthuko and Steadville High Schools in the Ladysmith area on a weekly basis to tutor grade 11 and 12 learners in mathematics and science. This forms part of the company’s Corporate Social Investment programme, under the Education pillar.
For more information on how Sumitomo Rubber South Africa supports the Ladysmith community, visit: https://www.srigroup.co.za/csi¹https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/water-and-sanitation/