Hunger haunts nearly 2-million children who should be getting assistance from the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP), according to data from Equal Education (EE).
A survey conducted by the civil society group, which took a bird eye view on five provinces, found that many pupils who should be benefitting from the programme are falling by the wayside.
In the Eastern Cape, the EE survey found that of the six kids surveyed who said they are only in the classroom on some days, five don’t receive a meal on the days when not at school, while 31 of the 47 pupils surveyed in Gauteng said they do not receive a meal on the days when not at school.
In KwaZulu-Natal, nine out of 11 pupils interviewed said they do not receive a meal on days when not at school.
EE said 13 of the 15 pupils who participated in the survey in Limpopo are only attending school on some days – and of the 13, four said they don’t receive a meal on the days when not at school and nine collect a meal at school on the days when home.
EE also surveyed the Western Cape, where it found that 19 out of 20 pupils interviewed said they do not receive a meal on days they don’t have to be at school.
EE, Equal Education Law Centre and Section27 in a joint statement said it was worrying that the NSNP is still not reaching pupils on the days when they are at home because of rotating timetables.
“Although there has been continued improvement in the uptake of school meals, it is likely that a rotating timetable system will be needed for some time to come. It is important that the government makes sure that meals are reaching pupils if they are not at school on a particular day because of physical distancing,” the organisations said.
“The education departments must fully and urgently apply themselves to ensuring that the right of pupils to basic nutrition is upheld – anything less is unacceptable when the consequences are so devastating for learners and their families.”
Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga and provincial MECs were in July ordered by the Pretoria High Court to take immediate steps to ensure the 9-million pupils who rely on the national school feeding scheme get meals