1.5 million pupils suffer from hunger at schools: Equal Education
Cape Town - Over 1.5 million pupils are still not being provided with schools meals despite the country having a National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) established to cater to that specific need.
According to education rights activist group Equal Education, some provincial education departments have repeatedly failed to report on how their NSNP roll-out was going despite there being a court order mandating them to do so. The various departments were supposed to file a report on the state of their NSNP roll-out by March 19.
“This slacking in the monitoring of whether learners are receiving meals undermines the intentions of the court order from our 2020 case. The delays and failures to provide reports on the NSNP rollout has limited the ability of Equal Education, Equal Education Law Centre and SECTION27 to monitor the delivery of meals, and ensure that all nine million learners are receiving the food they are entitled to through the NSNP,” the organisation said in a joint statement.
The organisation says that reports from the Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng and Limpopo were not submitted at all. While the Department of Basic Education has failed to meet the most recent deadline of April 14.
A report submitted by DBE Director-General Mathamzima Mweli indicated that at least 1.5 million pupils are still not receiving the meals.
“This is an unbelievable and terrible neglect of responsibility, that allows children to go hungry. This is an ongoing violation of children’s rights, and barriers to learners’ getting the school meals they are entitled to must be fixed urgently,” said EE.
Mweli’s report indicated that the number of NSNP beneficiaries had increased in March compared to the previous month’s stats. The increase was in the Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West, and the Western Cape.
Gauteng and Mpumalanga pupils are able to collect food parcels for when they are not attending school due to rotating school time tables.
EE said because there was no report filed by these provinces, it is difficult for them to monitor whether food parcels are being distributed in other provinces as well.
According to an EE survey conducted in March which question 300 pupils across, 91% of pupils received meals on the days that they were at school, but that up to 50% of pupils are unable to get meals or food parcels on the days they are not at school.
Currently, public school pupils attend five days fortnightly.