Equal Education and Limpopo schools haul Basic Education to court over feeding schemes
Johannesburg - Equal Education and two Limpopo school governing bodies are hauling the Basic Education department to court over feeding schemes.
The organisation and the schools want to compel the department to offer the school nutrition programme to all eligible learners in all grades.
Currently, the nutrition programme is offering food to learners in grades 7 and 12 who are back at school.
The department’s nutrition programme provides meals to over one million learners in Quintile 1 to Quintile 3 schools around the country.
The programme was suspended when schools closed in March when the country entered lockdown in an effort to curb the coronavirus. Now, Equal Education wants the department to provide food for learners in all provinces.
Now, Equal Education has called in the big legal eagles advocates Geoff Budlender and Tembeka Ngcukaitobi; and Thabang Pooe to hold the department accountable.
They want the courts to order that it is the department’s duty to ensure that all qualifying learners receive a daily meal whether or not they have resumed classes at their respective schools. They also want an order requiring the national and provincial departments to, within five days of the court order, to each provide a plan or programme to ensure that all qualifying learners receive their daily meal.
The department has said they are aware of the legal action.
Equal Education and the governing bodies have filed court papers that claim the department’s failure to offer learners food was a “regressive measure that violates learners’ rights to basic nutrition, basic education and equality”.
They claim that the department was going against what they promised in May when they said they would reinstate the feeding scheme programme. Basic education minister Angie Motshekga went back on this on June 1 when they would only offer food for learners at a later stage.
“They offered no time-frames or plans for such a roll out. The DBE claimed it did not have the capacity to roll out ‘new programmes’ despite the fact that the National Schools Nutrition Programme has been in operation since 1994, and has been widely lauded for its successes in combating learner hunger and improving learner outcomes,” said the group’s statement.