Rights groups, Equal Education (EE), Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) and Section 27, have welcomed government’s promise that all learners who qualify for the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP ) will receive school meals and food parcels from June 1.

Initially the department of Basic Education had said the programme will resume in accordance with its phased reopening plan, which would have meant that only grade 7 and 12 learners would receive the meals as they would be the first group to return to school.

The lobby groups have been engaging with have been engaging with the Presidency, the Department of Education and Parliament on this matter. On Tuesday, they say they received government’s commitment to supply all qualifying learners with meals.

Equal Education, Equal Education Law Centre and Section 27 had previously expressed concerns about the more than 9 million learners who depend on the programme for meals following a countrywide lockdown that led to the closure of schools.

“The national lockdown has deepened food insecurity for South Africans across the country. This has had particularly severe implications for the well-being and development of children, who are guaranteed the right to basic nutrition under section 28(1)(c) of the Constitution.”

The Provincial Education Departments will be responsible for developing the appropriate mechanisms for collection or delivery of meals and food parcels to learners. This is expected to include measures such as staggered collection times and social distancing protocols to ensure learner safety.

“While EE, EELC and Section 27 welcome the DBE’s commitment. Monitoring of provincial plans will be crucial to ensuring that the DBE’s commitment and constitutional obligations are fulfilled. We call on the DBE to make all provincial plans publicly available on the DBE’s website, and for national and provincial legislatures to maintain effective oversight,” reads the statement in part.

In the video below, is a report on schools readiness to reopen: