The urgent case to ensure that meals are provided to over 9 million learners who qualify for the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) will be heard in the High Court in Pretoria on Thursday.

Rights group, Equal Education (EE) and two Limpopo school governing bodies lodged the application against the Department of Basic Education.

EE says national and provincial education departments promised to roll out the NSNP in all schools, various implementation dates have been put forward and have not been honoured.

“We have spoken to learners and caregivers in various provinces who still wait for these commitments to be realised – either receiving no meals at all or being provided with insufficient portions. We are asking the court for a declaratory order that there is a duty on the government to ensure that meals are provided to all learners who qualify to benefit from the NSNP, regardless of whether they returned to school on 8 June,” says EE.

EE says it has asked the court for a structural order that requires the national and provincial departments to – within five days of the court order – each provide detailed information on implementation to ensure that the commitment to fulfill their constitutional obligation is honoured.

In the video, Frees Sate learners not back at school to receive meals:

Equal Education says the delay in reinstating the programme for all learners violates their constitutional rights to basic nutrition, basic education and equality, which must be protected even during a time of National State of Disaster.