Number of Western Cape pupils collecting food 'increasing week on week’
Cape Town – Equal Education, Equal Education Law Centre and SECTION27 have expressed concern that schools do not provide transport for pupils who stay far away and need to collect food.
The groups said the National School Nutrition Programme was still not reaching pupils on the days when they stayed at home because of rotating timetables.
A survey of Equalisers (learner members of Equal Education) across five provinces in mid-September, most of those who participated (96 out of 125, or 76%) were currently attending school according to a rotating timetable (meaning they only attended on some days and stayed at home on others).
Of those who said they only attended school on some days, 69 of 125 (71%) said they went without meals when they missed school.
Of 125 pupils surveyed, 98 (78%) said their school did not provide transport for those who stayed far away and needed to collect food from school, and 66 (53%) said they knew of other pupils in their community who were not getting food from their schools on days when they stayed at home.
The groups said in the Western Cape, 20 out of 28 Equalisers (71%) were only attending school on some days, and 19 out of 20 (95%) did not receive meals on days when they stayed at home. “Eight of the 28 know of pupils in their communities who are not getting food from their schools on days when they are at home.”
Western Cape Education Department (WCED) spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the province had been feeding pupils since April 8, implementing the scheme during lockdown with funding from the provincial treasury.
Hammond said feeding was going well, with the number of pupils collecting food increasing week on week.
“The WCED has informed all schools that every child on the scheme, regardless of whether they are attending school that day or not, should be afforded the opportunity to receive a meal,” she said.
“Pupils that take transport can go to another school even – their closest school – to collect a meal, should this be required. The schools are not required to drop off meals – the onus is on the child to collect the food from a feeding school,” Hammond said.
She said that also applied to those who had applied for a concession to not attend school.
They, or their parents, could also collect meals daily, she said.