Waste Disparities

June 13, 2023 by Student Siphokazi S.

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Project Summary:

Siphokazi S., a senior from South Africa, highlighted the unfulfilled promises of democracy in South Africa since 1994, particularly focusing on the persistent challenges faced by the 47 million South Africans living in townships. These townships, originally designed to segregate non-whites, continue to be plagued by unsafe conditions, poor education, and high unemployment, all exacerbated by economic disparities and failing municipal services.

Faced with this vast systemic problem, Siphokazi decided to address the waste management aspect, leveraging her education, expertise, and connection to the community. Fluent in Isizulu and deeply familiar with the local issues, she aimed to create impactful change at the grassroots level.

Siphokazi partnered with Birches and Eco School, whose curriculum focuses on sustainable lifestyles, to implement a similar framework in a government school. She taught life orientation (ALO) sessions to grade three students, emphasizing their rights and responsibilities, which were inadequately addressed by the current educational system.

In collaboration with DSW (Durbin Solid Waste) and PET Recycling, Siphokazi drafted a contract to bring waste management education and facilities to the school. She conducted three sessions with the students, teaching them how to manage waste effectively. Additionally, she set up a Waste Management Center at the school and created Isizulu posters to reinforce the teachings.

The initiative resulted in the collection of three tons of paper, two tons of plastic, half a ton of tin, and a ton of cardboard, generating 400 rand per month. The revenue was reinvested into the school to improve classroom environments.

Siphokazi’s project demonstrated the significant impact young students can have on their community. She envisions expanding this framework to other schools across South Africa, believing that true freedom requires more than just voting—it demands active, meaningful actions and services.

Siphokazi’s efforts reflect her mother’s advice: to act on what she believes in, striving for a better, more sustainable future for her community.