Province leads in addressing poor school girls' needs
February 6, 2017
Durban, South Africa: The Department of Education in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) says they have set aside R 50 million to fund the distribution of sanitary towels to various schools around KwaZulu-Natal so that young school girls can stay in school and avoid being absent.
Speaking to Africa Daily, spokesperson for the Department of Education in KwaZulu-Natal Muzi Mahlambi confirmed R 50 million has been set aside for the project which is going to be permanent and integrated into the learning curriculum. On a monthly basis, school principals have complained that young girls cannot attend classes because cannot cope with heavy menses and without sanitary towels, which are exorbitant in price, they remain at home.
The average price of sanitary of a pack of 10 sanitary pads is R12, and young girls require up to two packs a month.
“R50 million has been set aside by the department of Education to fund the distribution of sanitary towels for learners who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, and every year, the department will increase the funding of this project. A tender was also issued out last year to assist and support the buying of sanitary pads,” said Mahlambi.
The KZN DoE started distributing pads to indigent girl learners in selected quintiles 1- 4 from grade 4 to 12 in January 2017. They also estimated to distribute pads to 2992 schools around KZN.
According to the Circular issued by the KZN DoE, “Each learner will then receive a pack each month either from the school principal or a school based official. It is expected that the next delivery will commence in the next financial year should funds be available.”
Principles from the schools chosen for distribution will also receive orientation from Special Needs Education Service (SNES) district officials on the distribution of sanitary towels.
Muhlambi added that the department was providing pads not just to put in that missing puzzle piece in the education system, but to also create awareness that menstruation should not be seen as a taboo by both men and women.
“The project will also be integrated in the curriculum. For instance if a teacher is teaching biology, during that lesson they will explain how the human body works, what happens during menstruation what must be done and promote the use of hygienic materials to avoid infections. Both boys and girls will be taught about this and it will also be included in life orientation,” he said.
He also commended people who supported this project by contributing when they had not budget and said they are still welcoming people who wish to donate pads as the programme is guaranteed to be permanent.
Heather Phipps, PR and Communications Manager at Durban Girls High School (DGHS), said the initiative was “amazing” and should be enrolled country-wide.
“It’s so important for children to be able to get to schools. Girls getting pads is essential and there will now be changes in the environment as this will make a huge difference.”
She added, the DGHS has also been collecting pads and distributing them to those in need.
“We have been involved in a sponsorship drive and done various initiatives on different levels in the past. Fortunately none of our girls had to stay away,” she said.