• June 18th, 2019
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Ministry initiates dignity project  for learners


John Muyamba

RUNDU - Executive Director in the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture Sanet Steenkamp says N$3.6 million will be spent on a dignity project whereby not only girls will benefit from sanitary pads but boys will also get to buy soap and other sanitary products to improve their hygiene.
“At present the ministry spends N$156 million on primary grants, that is if you take the number of learners at primary schools … and in terms of secondary grants … N$84 million,” she said.
“Because this money that I’m talking about per learner goes straight to the schools, the ministry made the deliberate decision that a portion will be used as a start-up for income-generating projects at a school level and that is the money that will be used for the dignity projects,” Steenkamp said when she officiated at the global menstruation hygiene day in Rundu on Tuesday.
“That means the amount … this financial year will be used to start up a dignity project whereby not only girls benefit from sanitary pads but the boys will also need to buy soap and other sanitary as well,” she added.
According to Steenkamp, one of the objectives of the observance of the global menstruation hygiene day is to encourage a culture of care and support between all stakeholders in ensuring dignified menstrual health and hygiene management.
“As you have heard from the previous speakers menstrual health and hygiene management is a human rights issue just like the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of our gender, on the basis of sexual or gender orientation. Girls and women do not choose whether to have the menses or not, and when you do not support them during this time and provide them with the means to take care of themselves, we are violating their rights,” she said. She also noted that stigma around menstruation, combined with limited access to information at home and at schools, results in thousands of women and girls in Namibia having very little knowledge about what is happening to their body when they menstruate and how to deal with it. “When girls and women are not informed about menstruation and what happens in their body and if they don’t have access to affordable and quality sanitary products, it is known that they resort to harmful practices which put them at risk of infections and long-term consequences,” she said.
“We take cognisance of the dreadful things that are used in order to manage menstruation and it is our responsibility as a ministry to ensure that this practice come to an end. The ministry with the support of our development partners will embark on an …  assessment to ascertain the extent  of the problem,” she said.
She further revealed that internationally it is estimated girls lose three to four days of school every four weeks due to menstruation. “If we put this in the Namibian context where we have a minimum of 195 days of teaching and learning then we will see that girls lose about 44 days and only 150 days of the year remain for quality teaching and learning to take place.”
“That is now the girl child that is suffering the most  and that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is a gross injustice to our learners.”


John Muyamba
2019-05-31 09:15:49 18 days ago

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