Equal Education, Section27 and some Limpopo school governing bodies says work has begun to ensure that the Pretoria High Court order on the National School Nutrition Programme is implemented.

The group says it will be monitoring government to ensure that  rights of the over nine million learners who depend on the NSNP for a daily meal are fulfilled by government, without delay.

They have described last week’s ruling as a victory.

The organisations took the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to court after the department failed to open the National School Nutrition Programme to all deserving learners when schools reopened in June after they went on recess in March following the implementation of a hard lockdown.

On Friday, Acting Deputy Judge President Sulet Potterill ruled in a declaratory order that Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and eight Education MECs were in breach of their Constitutional duties for failing to roll out the NSNP to all eligible learners regardless of whether pupils were back at school or at home.

The judge has described the programme as a lifesaving for the poorest children.

“Literally a lifesaving programme for the poorest of the poor child by providing them with at least one nutritious meal a day while being educated. A programme that must be saluted,” Potterill said in her ruling.

“There is, and was, no viable substitute for the NSNP for the children,” added Judge Potterill.

In the video below, Impact of COVID-19 on school feeding schemes:

EE learner member in Limpopo, Tshepo Mabunda says it is disappointing that they had to take the department to court before it could resume with the programme.

“I am excited by this judgment but also sad that we had to resort to taking the Minister and the MECs to court for what they should have been doing for many learners who benefit and qualify from the feeding scheme. This victory comes at a time where many families struggle to access enough food and have to choose between buying data or food for their children to learn at home.”

Concerns have been raised that the lockdown period and the consequent closure of schools have worsened hunger among children who receive their only food at school.

Below is the full statement from the NGOs: 

 



JOINT MEDIA STATEMENT: EDUCATION RIGHTS ORGANISATIONS AND SCHOOL COMMUNITIES TO NOW MONITOR GOVERNMENT’S COMPLIANCE WITH THE SCHOOL MEALS COURT JUDGMENT (Text)