Remarks by Ms. Christine Muhigana, Representative, UNICEF South Africa at the Care and Support for Teaching and Learning Conference (CSTL)

24 November 2021

Honourable Minister Angie Motshekga, MP Department of Basic Education

Honourable Deputy Minister Reginah Mhaule

Deputy Director-General Dr Granville Whittle

The CEO of the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation, Ms Mmabatho Maboya

Board Chairperson of MIET Africa, Prof John Volmink,

The Chairperson of the National Education Collaboration Trust, Mr Sizwe Nxasana

Friends and colleagues,

A very good morning to you all.

On behalf of UNICEF South Africa, I am is pleased to be with you at this, the second Care and Support for Teaching and Learning (CSTL) Conference under the theme, Learning from COVID-19: Strengthening Care and Support

COVID-19 had highlighted the socio-economic and related disparities among children both in South Africa and globally, hence addressing the plight of vulnerable children is a core priority for both UNICEF and our partners.  These challenging (nearly) two years have also reminded us about the power of partnerships and how, collectively, we can make a meaningful difference for children.

At the hight of the pandemic, UNICEF, working with the DBE, committed to focus on two critical areas, namely:

  • Fostering the continuation of learning through providing online curriculum resources
  • Supporting a conducive and safe learning environment through, among other initiatives, the construction of handwashing stations and the production and dissemination of health-promotion messaging.

With our partners in Government, the corporate sector and civil society, we worked – and indeed continue to work - to ensure that our support for vulnerable children is not interrupted both during the lockdowns and when schools reopened.

As part of our efforts to support the continuation of learning during the pandemic, UNICEF, through the NECT, provided resources for the development of learning materials to support both learners and teachers. This included the broadcasting of educational programmes for Foundation Phase​ learners as well as the development of COVID-19-prevention messages for both learners and educators.

Through our established corporate partnerships with Woolworths and Unilever respectively, we were able to handwashing stations in schools located in vulnerable communities thereby promoting hygiene and better health outcomes for learners.

Like all of you here today, we were concerned by the July unrest in KwaZulu-Natal. We therefore committed to work with the KZN Provincial Department of Education to repair some of the schools that were damaged. This reconstruction will include repair and refurbishment of special schools and provision of learner buses. We have also committed to supporting mental health and psychosocial support programmes for teachers, non-teaching staff, practitioners, and facilitators at ECD centres in KZN.

At present, UNICEF, in partnership with the DBE, is in the process of supporting the development of a Telehealth online platform that will benefit learners and teachers to access psychosocial assistance through their social media platforms. This platform will compliment existing school-based health services and will have a positive impact on physical and mental health outcomes for children and adolescents.

Ladies and gentlemen, we gather today as another eventful – and at times challenging - year draws to a close. With this in mind,  and with UNICEF commemorating 75 years of existence next month, we are reminded that the quality of care and support that we can provide for the children of today will help shape a better tomorrow for all of us.

The power of partnerships to achieve this is critical. I wish you well with your discussions and thank you again for this opportunity to address you today.

Media contacts

Sudeshan Reddy
Communication Specialist
UNICEF South Africa
Tel: +27 82 561 3970
Toby Fricker
Chief of Communication & Partnerships
UNICEF South Africa
Tel: +27 61 418 7486

About UNICEF

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

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