Lockdown: North West schools see low uptake for nutrition programme on Day 1 of recess

Civil society organisations have been feeding children.
Civil society organisations have been feeding children.
Brenton Geach, GroundUp
  • The North West education department said pupils did not turn up at schools for their nutrition programme meals.
  • The department said the school nutrition programme will continue during the four-week break and children can get meals from their nearest schools.
  • Parents and communities have been urged to support children and ensure they collect their meals from schools.

The first day of preparing meals for beneficiaries of the school nutrition programme amid a four-week recess was met with much disappointment and concern in North West, as pupils did not pitch to get their meals.

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And now the provincial Department of Education is appealing to parents and communities to support children to ensure they get their food from schools.

"As a department we have been instructed by the court to prepare meals for the learners even when schools are closed. Today, our schools have prepared the food and unfortunately learners didn't turn up and this creates a fruitless expenditure," North West Education MEC Mmaphefo Matsemela said in a statement on Monday night.

"Hence I am appealing to parents to allow those who stay nearby schools to collect their food."

Monday marked the first day of a four-week break announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday.

Ramaphosa announced Cabinet had decided that all public schools must close from 27 July until 24 August as Covid-19 infections peak in the country.

The decision followed calls by unions that schools shut down amid the spike in infections.

The president also announced that the school calendar would be extended to 2021. Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga is yet to gazette the new directions, as well as dates.

According to the announcement by Ramaphosa, Grade 12 pupils were set to remain at home for one week and return on 3 August, while those in Grade 7 would return on 10 August.

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The North West education department said it would continue implementing the standard operating procedures as set out in the Covid-19 regulations when pupils collect their meals at schools.

On Monday, national education department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga told News24 children benefitting from the programme could collect their meals from their nearest school while they were on recess.

The school nutrition programme was suspended when schools were closed at the start of the lockdown in March.

But following an urgent application lodged by Equal Education in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, it was reinstated.

The court granted an order for the department to roll out the nutrition programme to all eligible children, regardless of whether they had returned to school or not, News24 reported earlier.

It also ordered Motshekga and education MECs to file detailed plans and programmes for the nutrition scheme within 10 days.

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