MORE than 9 million learners face hunger and food shortages after the Department of Basic Education once again fails to ensure universal access to the national school feeding scheme as per last month’s court order.
The Equal Education Law Centre and Section27, representing Equal Education and the governing bodies of two schools in Limpopo, issued a statement on Wednesday saying the department has failed to deliver food to all learners across the country as ordered by the high court in Pretoria.
On Tuesday, the NGOS wrote a letter to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and provincial MECs of Education about their latest National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) progress report required by the high court.
The NGOs said the latest report from Motshekga and provincial MECs of Education, which arrived on 7 August 2020, was at least more coherent than previous documents filed with the high court.
“The documents promisingly show an increase in the number of meals being made available to qualifying learners in all provinces since we launched the urgent court case,” said the NGOs.
The NGOs said, however, the report lacks crucial information and plans to address obstacles to the collection of food from various schools.
Basic Education Director-General Mathanzima Mweli said in an affidavit last week that the NSNP was ready to implement on a full scale but due to fears of COVID-19, parents were not allowing pupils to collect their meals at schools.
Mweli also said long distances from schools also prevented pupils from coming to school to collect the meals and this affected the number of pupils benefiting from the programme.
“It is unacceptable that learners and families may be unaware that they can fetch the school meals they are entitled to because of poor communication from education departments, or because they might not have transport to school,” said the NGOS.
“These court reports are an opportunity for the education departments to work with school communities and with us to solve problems in the best interests of learners across the country – but inaccurate data and contradictory information in the reports undermine the potential for meaningful engagement. We will continue monitoring the delivery of food with schools throughout the country so that we have a sense of the uptake of the NSNP and any obstacles to the uptake, as well as how these problems are being fixed.”
(COMPILED BY INSIDE EDUCATION STAFF)