In 2017, OneVoice South Africa (OVSA) started its educational partnership with two rural schools in uMlalazi Municipality, a local Municipality within the King Cetshwayo District of KwaZulu-Natal. This district, formerly known as uThungulu, is located in the north eastern region of the Province and consists of five local municipalities including: uMfolozi (KZ 281), uMhlathuze (KZ 282), uMlalazi (KZ 284), Mthonjaneni (KZ 285), and Nkandla (KZ 286). King Cetswayo is considered by many to be a priority District.
Some 80% of the population is rural and 53% is aged between 0 and 19, with women making up 53% of the population. The impact of HIV/AIDS and gender imbalances has impacted the population structure of this district, especially in the rural areas. A lack of scarce skills has negatively affected the employment conditions, as industries have been forced to source labour outside of the region, to the detriment of local workers. Severe drought conditions have resulted in water sources running completely dry causing further challenges. The availability of and access to education is severely lacking for a large proportion of the population that is school going age. In addition, a very large proportion of adults are illiterate, limiting the economic development potential and successful implementation of LED strategies in the district. This lack of literacy and tertiary education limits the transfer of knowledge and skills relating to a more environmental sustainable livelihood, as well as the implementation of new sustainable technologies and strategies in the district. In addition, water pollution and indoor air pollution are two major issues in the region. The district is situated in a mountainous area which increases the cost of infrastructure provision, especially in the case of roads. This, in turn, leads to geographic isolation and increased transportation costs for the people living in this area. Therefore, the challenge is to provide basic services such as water and sanitation to these people, while stimulating local economic development, job creation, and the growth of the small and medium business sector. The need to address poverty is one of the most critical issues with the vast majority of residents living in the rural homesteads and unemployment sitting at about 50%. OVSA has implemented its Schools Programme in two schools in this region, Bagibile High School (Nkanini Reserve) and Ntabantuzuma High School (Entumeni). Through the implementation of its Schools Programme and associated projects (Life Skills and Enterprise Development) and with the support of its partners – school management, municipal role players and stakeholders, the local and district DOE, the district DOH and other NGOs – OVSA hopes to improve knowledge of HIV/AIDS and TB, STIs, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Gender, clean water and sanitation practices, Career development and Human Rights issues, as well as improve illiteracy rates among high school students. OVSA hopes to make a further impact by involving learners and community members in addressing the health and economic issues prevalent in the communities surrounding the schools and developing youth and adult partnerships.