Unilever has reaffirmed its commitment to improve the lives of millions of South African children through a new integrated brightFuture Schools Programme.
At Shine Studios in Johannesburg last night, guests were guided through a thought-provoking and inspiring art exhibition, created together with I See a Different You, a Soweto-based creative collective. The exhibition was a showcase of the future dreams of young South African schoolchildren.
The exhibition displayed portraits of young schoolchildren from Carter, Skeen, Gordon, M.C Weiler and Emfundisweni Primary Schools in Alexandra, alongside drawings they had created of their dreams for the future. Their ambitions ranged from doctors and nurses to soccer players and astronauts.
The purpose of the exhibition was to raise awareness of the new brightFuture Schools Programme by highlighting how the ambitions of South African children are sometimes beyond their reach, due to circumstances out of their control, such as poor sanitation.
I See a Different You are known for their distinctive style and optimistic portrayal of South African people and stories. Justice Mukheli from I See a Different You spoke about their work on the exhibition. “We thought this would just be another shoot, but when we started working with the kids, they really blew us away. They are so smart and so curious. They have such big ambitions. The experience reminded us of when we were young and encouraged us to stay youthful and inspired.”
Unilever currently has successful schools programmes running in hundreds of schools, using their brands with purpose, but these have never been integrated. To date, Domestos has reached over 480 000 South African school children through the “Cleaner Toilets, Brighter Future” and Germ-busters Club programmes. Lifebuoy’s ‘School of 5’ programme has reached over 2 million children and 10 million South Africans in total.
Now, the Unilever brightFuture Schools Programme will integrate these programmes as well as two others, to create one holistic offering, incorporating health and hygiene education and Maths skills.
Central to Unilever’s commitment to creating a brightFuture for all people, is its commitment to the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, which were adopted in September 2015. For the past five years, Unilever has been leading by example, addressing many of these global challenges through its own Sustainable Living Plan.
On his recent visit to South Africa, Unilever CEO, Paul Polman called for collective action to drive sustainability and urged stakeholders and business leaders to identify partnership opportunities that will deliver positive change and strive to meet targets set out in the National Development Plan (NDP) and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).