Civil society organisations are calling for an urgent joint meeting between Parliament’s Portfolio Committees on Basic Education and Social Development.
Equal Education, Equal Education Law Centre, the Centre for Child Law, the Children’s Institute and Section 27, want the officials of both departments to outline their plans to ensure that children do not starve while the country remains on lockdown.
South Africa was plunged into lockdown on 27 March as a measure to curb the spread of the coronavirus, leading to the closure of schools across the country. The move meant that children could no longer benefit from the School Nutrition Programme.
According to the organisations, nine million children benefit from the programme.
“For many of these children, the meal received at schools or at ECD (Early Childhood Development) centres is often their only meal for the day,” a statement from the organisations say.
In the video, Equal Education’s Noncedo Madubedube calls for access to basic nutrition for children:
Responses the organisations require
1. A detailed provincial breakdown of a) how many children are receiving food relief support from the provincial DSDs and SASSA, b) what such food relief support has specifically included, and c) what the value of each parcel is;
2. A specific indication of how many children who ordinarily benefit from the NSNP are currently receiving food relief support from the DSD and SASSA;
3. An indication of plans to ensure food relief to those children not benefitting from food relief from DSD or SASSA; and
4. Report on the national and provincial budgets available for food relief programmes for children, including current beneficiaries of the NSNP and ECD feeding schemes, and provide a record of how funds have been allocated to date.
Gauteng rejects the call
Gauteng Premier David Makhura says restoring the school feeding scheme during the lockdown would endanger the learners’ lives and violate COVID-19 regulations.
“If all the kids were to gather at our schools everyday for the school feeding, we are exposing them to the dangers of infections. They will infect each other. We can’t entertain that. The reasons the schools are closed, we want to protect the kids.”
Below are some of the amended lockdown regulations: