Deputy Minister hands over Eco-Furniture School desks to Ubuhlebemvelo Primary School in Mtubatuba

22 February 2016


The Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms. Barbara Thomson has today, Monday 22 February 2016, handed over Eco-Furniture School Desks, School Uniforms, School Bags and Stationery Sets to UBuhlebemvelo Primary School pupils, in Mtubatuba, Kwa Zulu-Natal.

The Deputy Minister was approached by the UBuhlebemvelo Primary School, with a special request to assist its destitute learners with school needs, such as, desks, school bags and stationery. These were delivered to the school as part of the Back to School Initiative.

The Eco-Furniture Programme which is the Department of Environmental Affairs’ brain-child, is a job creation initiative that offers opportunities to unemployed South Africans. Furniture, such as, eco-desks, walking sticks and chess board tables, is produced out of the alien invasive plants.

Invasive alien plants cause an enormous damage and threat to water security, reduce the productive use of land, and affect the ecological functioning of natural systems. Moreover, such species deepen the impact of floods and fires, and increase soil erosion. It is estimated that these plants are present in 20 million hectares of the country, and they are spreading rapidly.

Delivering her key note address Deputy Minister Thomson said, “Our children are the future leaders of this country and it is therefore important that we provide them with proper guidance and support. Our education system needs to prepare our children to become well-rounded citizens that care for and respect the rights of others including the right to give free expression to our diverse cultures.”

As part of the Back To School initiative two other schools in rural Mpumalanga and Kwa Zulu-Natal will receive Eco-furniture School Desks and Stationery during the course of this week from the Deputy Minister.

“When we clear these invasive plants we use the wood to make desks. Through this we are able to reduce the backlog for school desks at poor schools while at the same time creating jobs for the unemployed. The Eco desk programme shows the value of our environment in addressing social needs and as young people, I want to encourage you to take responsibility for our environment. Your generation and the generations to come after you will have to live in this environment. It is your responsibility therefore to look after your environment.  Schools are perfect venues for capacity‐building and training the next generation about environmental protection and to empower them to make a real difference through simple actions such as Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, said Deputy Minister.”

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