Joint media statement: The Department of Basic Education commits to ensuring the National School Nutrition Programme reaches all learner beneficiaries from 1 June
27 May 2020 – During an engagement with education stakeholders yesterday, the Department of Basic Education confirmed that – in addition to Grade 7 and 12 learners returning to school on 1 June – all children who usually qualify for the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) will also be receiving school meals or food parcels from the same date.
Since the closure of schools in March, various education justice and children’s rights advocates, including Equal Education (EE), Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) and SECTION27, have raised serious concerns around the halting of the NSNP during the national lockdown. We have advocated for the resumption of the NSNP, including through engagement with the Presidency, the DBE and Parliament. We welcome the DBE’s commitment to meet the nutritional needs of these children.
Nine (9) million children ordinarily benefit from school feeding schemes, which for some children is their only guaranteed meal for the day. The national lockdown has deepened food insecurity for South Africans across the country. This has had particularly severe implications for the wellbeing and development of children, who are guaranteed the right to basic nutrition under section 28(1)(c) of the Constitution.
According to the DBE, Provincial Education Departments will be responsible for developing the appropriate mechanisms for collection or delivery of meals and food parcels to learners . This is expected to include measures such as staggered collection times and social distancing protocols to ensure learner safety.
While EE, EELC and SECTION27 welcome the DBE’s commitment, monitoring of provincial plans will be crucial to ensuring that the DBE’s commitment and constitutional obligations are fulfilled. We call on the DBE to make all provincial plans publicly available on the DBE’s website, and for national and provincial legislatures to maintain effective oversight.
To arrange an interview, contact:
Leanne Jansen-Thomas (Equal Education Head of Communications) 079 4949 411
Tad Khosa (EE Law Centre Media and Communications Coordinator) 081 346 0180
Julia Chaskalson (SECTION27 Communications Officer) 083 440 2674