Unilever has reaffirmed its commitment to improve the lives of millions of South African children through a new integrated brightFuture Schools Programme. The company held an exhibition at Shine Studios in partnership with the creative trio I See A Different You.The exhibition displayed portraits of young schoolchildren from Carter, Skeen, Gordon, M.C Weiler and Emfundisweni Primary Schools in Alexandra, alongside drawings they had created of their dreams for the future. Their ambitions ranged from doctors and nurses to soccer players and astronauts.
The purpose of the exhibition was to raise awareness of the new brightFuture Schools Programme by highlighting how the ambitions of South African children are sometimes beyond their reach, due to circumstances out of their control, such as poor sanitation. I See a Different You are known for their distinctive style and optimistic portrayal of South African people and stories. Justice Mukheli from I See a Different You spoke about their work on the exhibition. “We thought this would just be another shoot, but when we started working with the kids, they really blew us away. They are so smart and so curious. They have such big ambitions. The experience reminded us of when we were young and encouraged us to stay youthful and inspired.”
Unilever currently has successful schools programmes running in hundreds of schools, using their brands with purpose, but these have never been integrated. To date, Domestos has reached over 480 000 South African school children through the “Cleaner Toilets, Brighter Future” and Germ-busters Club programmes.Lifebuoy’s ‘School of 5’ programme has reached over 2 million children and 10 million South Africans in total.
Now, the Unilever brightFuture Schools Programme will integrate these programmes as well as two others, to create one holistic offering, incorporating health and hygiene education and Maths skills.
Unilever South Africa Executive Vice President, Peter Cowan spoke about the importance of collective action within the Unilever brightFuture Schools Programme.
“Our vision is to create a bright future for all South Africans, reaching 15 million people by 2020. We can’t do that alone. Our partnerships with UNICEF and the Department of Basic Education will allow us to scale up the work we’ve been doing to address some major problems and create an even bigger impact. This is a watershed moment where we are all taking action to achieve real change.”
Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi who also attended the event, said, “Through this partnership, we welcome the commitment of Unilever and UNICEF in this endeavor. We need to do all we can to give young people the skills and education they need to reach their full potential. We know that many of our schools are having difficulty with sanitation issues and through these programmes, we can teach children good hygiene habits that will allow them to be at school and get the education they need.There must be no child in South Africa who can’t realize their dreams due to limitations that can be defeated.”
The brightFuture Schools Programme will start piloting in 31 schools in KZN, Eastern Cape, Gauteng and Limpopo over the next five months. It will integrate the Domestos and Lifebuoy health and hygiene programmes, a new oral hygiene programme from Pepsodent and the popular Omo Smart Kids Maths programme. Children will complete a 21-day behavior change programme and will receive product and content to complete tasks at school and at home with their families. This broadens the reach of the education so that, ultimately this pilot has the potential to reach over 100 000 community members.