Johannesburg - Equal Education and its partners have vowed to continue monitoring the roll-out of the National School Nutrition Programme.
This as learners in all grades are back at school after a long break because of Covid-19.
Equal Education, Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) and SECTION27 earlier this year took the Basic Education Department to court forcing them to offer food to all learners even while they were still at home.
“We are encouraged that the latest court-ordered progress reports from the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and provincial education departments show that they did respond to our feedback on how to fix some of the obstacles with the roll-out of meals, and show that there was improvement in the roll-out of school meals before learners in all grades were back at school,” Equal Education said.
They said some of the implemented measures included the development of communications plans so that learners and caregivers would know that the feeding scheme had restarted.
The organisation said getting accurate information on the number of learners receiving food was still a challenge.
“The DBE and some provinces have expressed challenges with accurately capturing this data and some reports still contain contradictory and confusing information – in some cases it is unclear whether the data refers to all learners who are receiving meals, or only learners who are back at school, or only learners who are still at home,” Equal Education said.
They said feedback from communities had shown improvement but there were still challenges.
“Many learners will not be at school every day – either because of social distancing arrangements in school or for medical reasons.
“Because of this, it is critical that departments develop innovative ways to ensure that food reaches learners, which may include fixing problems with scholar transport, providing learners with take-home meals for ‘off’ days on the days when learners are in school, or delivering food to learners who are not at school,” Equal Education said.
For instance, they said, last week learners from a few schools in King William’s Town and one school in Keiskammahoek in the Eastern Cape said they only got meals when they were at school for classes, but that when their grades were told to remain at home because of the rotating school timetables necessary for physical distancing, they could not receive meals.