NGO Equal Education (EE) has expressed concerns for the thousands of children returning to school on Monday – saying they believe the National Schools Nutrition Programme has not yet ensured learners will be receiving their meals.
The Pretoria High Court has reserved judgment in EE’s bid to compel government to provide meals to learners, regardless of whether they have returned to school.
The programme, which feeds nine million learners, was suspended in March due to lockdown.
It resumed on the June 8 when schools reopened for grade 7 and 12 learners.
Grades R, 6 and 11 will return to class from Monday, July 6.
EE’s general-secretary, Noncedo Madubedube, says millions of children are still deprived of meals, despite the programme being fully funded.
“You would have seen a couple of reports coming out of rural provinces like Limpopo, where even those who are back at school – the grades 7s and 12s – at different times had to go home and had a half day at school. Because the foods that SGBs have received was not enough to feed everyone on site at that moment.”
“So we are cautiously looking at the fact that the other grades are coming into schools and some SGBs are saying we need to re-purpose our budget. One of the things that we did argue in court is we do need an oversight body to ensure that the department fulfills the order that we are looking for.”
In the video below, Madubedube elaborates on EE’s concerns:
Meanwhile, a group of concerned parents and allies, under the banner #SaveOurChildren, have reiterated that a total shutdown of schools is the safest measure to save the lives of teachers, children and their families.
South Africa has 168 061 COVID-19 infections and 2 844 deaths.
#SaveOurChildren Representative Abdul Karriem Mathews says infections have also risen in schools since June.
“Schools were impacted. More than 1 500 teachers became infected. Up to 10 teachers have already died. The mere act of opening the schools in May has led to infections spiking among teachers.”
“Those teachers dying is what we call state-sanctioned murder. Opening other grades, especially grade R, who are expected to wear a mask and sanitise, it’s impossible and absurd to open up the schools.”
In the video below, Sadtu proposes that Eastern Cape schools close until August: