The Metsimaholo municipal area in the northern Free State is home to no fewer than 98 crèches and pre-schools, known as early childhood development (ECD) centres. Hundreds of dedicated educators and helpers work five or more days a week, with limited means, to nurture young children outside of their homes.
These ECD centres, mostly located in Zamdela, a township on the outskirts of Sasolburg, are the earliest experiences of schooling that will shape the rest of the children’s lives. The facilities are largely ill-equipped with poor sanitation where pit toilets prevail. Pit toilets are rudimentary toilets built over holes in the ground, sometimes called “long drops”. These toilets are unsanitary, undignified and are a threat to the lives of very young children. Sasol has taken steps to have all ECD pit toilets removed within the Metsimaholo Municipality: Sasolburg, Deneysville and Oranjeville.
By the end of 2018, 15 ECD centres had had their pit toilets converted to either flushing toilets or (where the absence of nearby piped-water infrastructure makes such toilets impractical), decent, dry sanitation units. Where flush toilets are possible, containers are installed and connected to either French drains or the municipal sewerage system. Typically, bathrooms consist of five mini toilets for youngsters, hand-washing basins and an adult toilet and basin, all within neat, aesthetically appealing containers. By the end of 2019, 30 Metsimaholo ECD centres will have had their pit toilets dismantled and replaced.
We have 145 children aged between nought and six years old. When they needed to go to the toilet, the children would use ten buckets. There was one pit toilet for the eleven staff. Now Sasol has provided us with these beautiful, clean facilities. It has changed our school and it has changed the lives of all of us.ALINA MOTATE – ECD Teacher
Over and above providing proper toilets, local ECD centres receive teacher training (as many as 80% of educators lack proper qualifications), financial-training support, infrastructure upgrades including vegetable gardens and decent, safe kitchens, and – with partners Rotary – educational toys and materials.
ECD learners – whose early-education experiences Sasol is working hard to improve – feed into the local primary and then high-school environments, all of which Sasol continuously supports with grants, training, bursaries and technical support. This long-term commitment is changing thousands of young Sasolburg lives every year.