Court Orders Education Dept To Resume Nutrition Programme

The Basic Education Minister and eight provincial education departments have been ordered by a court to provide meals to learners who need them during the Covid-19 pandemic. This comes after Equal Education and two Limpopo school schools filed an urgent application against the Minister and provincial education MECs.

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The Minister for the Department of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, and eight provincial education departments have been ordered by a court to provide meals to learners who need them during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This comes after the Department of Basic Education (DBE), lobby group Equal Education (EE) and two Limpopo schools have reached a settlement agreement forcing the department to revise its plans and implement the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP).

GroundUp reported earlier in July that EE and the schools filed an urgent application in the Gauteng High Court against Motshekga and provincial education MECs, stating they had not fully implemented the nutrition programme as ordered by the court in July 2020.

EE has said that it will be closely be monitoring and evaluating the revised plans in the spirit of co-operation and with the shared interest of putting learners first, they will then be ensuring the successful rollout of the NSNP.

The nutrition programme was suspended when schools closed during the lockdown. Once schools reopened for certain grades in June, only some pupils benefitted from it.

EE's Head of research, Hopolang Selebelo, says that this has been a difficult time for learners and parents who have been impacted by the economic repercussions of the Covid pandemic adding that the two-month suspension of the NSNP last year prompted them to approach the Gauteng High Court regarding the matter. 

Furthermore, the court order states that the plan will take into consideration the challenges experienced so far in delivering the NSNP during Covid-19 and the need for realistic and responsive plans that ensure every qualifying learner receives a meal either through hot meals or food parcels under the NSNP.

The plan also needs to look at the need to feed every qualifying learner during the school calendar year, regardless of whether schools are closed due to COVID-19 or whether learners are at home because of a rotational timetable as well as the need for communication plans.

They should then ensure that all learners and schooling stakeholders are aware that meals are being provided, the manner in which meals will be provided, and the availability of scholar transport where applicable.

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