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Sustainability 28 July 2022

Standard Bank helps in improving the lives of learner by improving water infrastructure

Zanele Twala, Chief Executive Office – Standard Bank Tutuwa Community Foundation Bhongo Bavuma Standard Bank Branch Manager, Grahamstown Duane Grobler Standard Bank Manager for Distribution, Client Coverage & Consumer Clients

Standard Bank, through its Tutuwa Community Foundation, is endeavoring to improve the lives of learners in the Eastern Cape, Northwest, and Free State by donating water tanks to various schools located in these provinces. The Foundation is supporting various education programmes in these provinces to improve the quality of education.  This support is part of the bank’s Mandela Day efforts.

The initiative will see a total of sixty-seven tanks handed over to schools in these regions where water is becoming increasingly scarce, and many children, especially in impoverished areas, are impacted by the lack of infrastructure that provides access to clean drinking water and sanitation at the schools they attend.

Kutliso Daniels Secondary School, located in Grahamstown, was the first school to receive one of the sixty-seven water tanks, which will not only bring a reliable source of water to the school but add vibrancy to the grounds was painted with unique designs by local artistic Kevin De Klerk (AKA Muralit) who recently collaborated with the bank on an UNBXD campaign. This will also see a strong alignment with The National Arts Festival. The handover of the water tank to Kutliso school will be accompanied by a donation of 100 school shoes to the school and its neighboring schools in response to a need that currently exists among its learners.

Zanele Twala, Chief Executive Office of the  Standard Bank’s Tutuwa Community Foundation, which aims to uplift SA’s marginalised communities by investing in young people from their earliest years to their schooling and post-schooling years, says that the foundation is proud to be supporting an initiative that will ensure more learners have access to quality education and over and above that basic services like clean drinking water and sanitation to keep them healthy, in school and on track to meet their educational milestones.

Although strides have been made on the journey to improving the quality of public education in South Africa, there are still huge shortfalls that exist especially regarding the very poor infrastructure in many public schools.

A July 2021 report by the South African Human Rights Commission on water and sanitation in schools reveals that there are more than one million learners in the country’s schools who still use pit latrines, while there are almost 150 000 children who are in schools with no water.

The impact of lack of access to clean water and sanitation on students’ academic performance and attendance rates is significant. According to a report by the International Labor Organization that explored the impact of water service delivery on children's livelihoods, especially on their school attendance and performance, the lack of safe water can cause even the best students to lose momentum as they deal with stomach pains and diarrhea from disease and hunger. Students miss class to go fetch water, or to care for sick parents or siblings.

Zanele adds that the bank understands that no child can be expected to gain an education if their basic day-to-day needs are not catered for. The reality, however, is that many children in the country, particularly in rural areas attend schools without proper sanitation or shoes and clothing, which negatively impacts on their dignity and puts their health and safety at risk.”

Bhongo Bavuma Standard Bank Branch Manager, Grahamstown adds that it is Standard Bank’s aim to ensure children in the country and across the continent can access quality education, which also means supporting communities in need with necessities so that children can focus on learning and not be distracted by issues related to not having clean water or access to a nutritious meal, for example.

“With a vision of making sure that every generation lives better than the last, we, as Standard Bank, remain focused on becoming involved in initiatives and entering partnerships with government and community stakeholders to provide basic necessities and improve the livelihoods of school-going children and educational outcomes in the country.”

Duane Grobler, Standard Bank Manager for Distribution, Client Coverage & Consumer Clients, adds: “We believe that Africa’s latent potential can be unlocked if we take proactive steps to nurture the leaders of tomorrow. Through this intervention, we believe that we are creating a conducive environment that will encourage the children to attend school and ultimately become productive members of society. As Standard Bank, we remain focused on ensuring every generation lives better than the last and this means improving the quality of education through continuous interventions and initiatives that honour the late Nelson Mandela’s vision for a better future for the country and her children.”