SECTION27 Press statement: Learners at Tshinavhe Secondary School without school meals for over two months
342 learners at Tshinavhe Secondary School in the Vhuronga 2 Circuit of the Vhembe District in Limpopo have not had a meal at school since the mid September.

The School Governing Body of Tshinavhe Secondary School has made every effort to bring the lack of food to the attention of the circuit, the district, the provincial department and the national Department of Basic Education. The principal wrote two letters to the Circuit Manager, neither of which elicited a response. The SGB then instructed SECTION27 to write to the District Director and while responses were received from the District Director and Acting Head of Department of the Limpopo Department of Education indicating that food would be delivered by 14 October, no food was delivered. Subsequent letters and phone calls, including a Letter of Demand, have gone unanswered.

The learners at Tshinavhe have no food despite a conditional grant transferred to the Limpopo Department of Basic Education to fund the National School Nutrition Programme.

The National School Nutrition Programme has existed in some form since 1994. It provides a meal to each learner at Quintile 1 to 3 schools across the country. It is an indispensible tool in the state’s attempt to fulfil children’s rights to basic nutrition and basic education in South Africa. Receiving a meal at school enables learners to concentrate at school and to learn.

In the absence of that meal, many learners at Tshinavhe Secondary School, including Grade 12 learners, are currently writing exams on empty stomachs. Others are being given a portion of the scant resources of their families with which to purchase food at school.

On Friday 8 November 2013 the SGB, represented by SECTION27, launched an urgent application in the North Gauteng High Court. The application seeks an order directing the delivery of food to Tshinavhe Secondary School and declaring that the failure on the part of the national and provincial departments of education to ensure the delivery of food to Tshinavhe is a violation of the rights of learners to basic education, basic nutrition, equality, dignity and public administration in line with section 195 of the Constitution.

The Respondents have until Monday, 11 November to file an answering affidavit.

For comment, please contact Sasha Stevenson on 082 839 6879 or 011 356 4100