In celebration of Global Handwashing Day on 15 October 2020 the Department of Basic Education, UNICEF and Lifebuoy announced the signing of a declaration of intent to change the way the letter ‘H’ in the alphabet is being taught from “H is for Hat” to “H is for Handwashing”, with the objective to make ‘H’ the universal symbol for Handwashing in all schools nationwide.

A request was posed to publishers to participate in this initiative. In response, Macmillan Education S.A. donated a total of 690 000 FP Life Skills books to 5 provinces.

In celebration of the 2021 Global Handwashing Day on 15 October Macmillan Education South Africa launched the ‘Handwashing Heroes and other stories’ book in support of this initiative. The aim of this storybook is to inspire children in a fun way to become Handwashing Heroes in their own communities.

The virtual launch was attended by representatives from the Department of Basic Education, Unilever and Lifebuoy, as well as subject advisors and teachers. The guest speaker was Mr. Tlhabane, Chief-Director – LTSM from the DoE.

The first Global Handwashing Day was held in 2008, when over 120 million children around the world washed their hands with soap in more than 70 countries. While Covid-19 has elevated the importance of hand hygiene, the need for handwashing goes beyond the virus. This remains a critical concern in South Africa, where children are most impacted by poor hygiene. “Hand hygiene needs to become part of our everyday life, now and beyond the Covid-19 pandemic. Handwashing with soap is the easiest and most cost-effective way to save lives. This needs to be practised and prioritised.” (Mrs. Angie Motshekga – Minister of Basic Education)

To go with the Handwashing Heroes and other stories book, a bookmark in the form of a ruler was created that will be very useful for learners, and will also help create awareness for the proper washing of hands. A poster as well as a classroom door label complete the handwashing kit.

The next step in this project will be to get these handwashing kits into schools with the help of sponsorships from corporate companies.

See all the components of the handwashing kit below.