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Motshekga Given One More Chance To Make Things Right

Equal Education is not impressed with eight provinces missing the deadline to submit reports to the high court explaining how they plan to reintroduce the school feeding programme. The organisation is accusing the department of making the public believe that the school feeding programme is running smoothly when it is in fact not. 

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Equal Education sent a letter to Minister Motshekga, following the report that the Minister submitted to the court on Friday. The organisation feels that the report was of poor quality and did not give many details of how the programme would work. 

Last month, the court ordered Minister Motshekga and eight provincial MECs to submit a report by 31 July, explaining how the Basic Education department would roll out the national school feeding programme. 

Provincial MECs failed to meet the deadline, and this makes Equal Education worried about the 9,6 million learners who rely on the school feeding programme. 

"We believe that the plan filed by Minister Motshekga is not detailed enough to guide the roll out of the NSNP at this time when learners depend on it more than ever. According to our courts, when it comes to  the qualified socio-economic rights such as the rights to, healthcare, water and social security, a “reasonable” plan must:

  • Make it possible for the right to become a reality;
  • Be clear, be in-depth and capable of being implemented;
  • Clearly assign responsibilities and tasks to the different parts of government; 
  • Make available the money and human resources necessary for implementation; 
  • Be transparent, with members of the public knowing and understanding what the plan says; and
  • Meet short-term urgent needs, and medium- and long-term needs."

Equal Education wants Minister Motshekga to submit a new plan that will have a clear balance between the right to basic education and the right to basic nutrition, so it can easily be put into action. 

"The [existing] plan already makes excuses that there won’t be enough money to continue to roll out the NSNP in November and December, but does not mention how her department will solve this."

They have asked the Minister to fix her plan by 7 August, and are calling for the education department to communicate more with learners about the feeding programme. 

"The DBE and provincial education departments should strengthen their communications efforts so that learners and parents/caregivers know:

  • That the nutrition programme should have restarted in all schools;
  • What the safety protocols are to protect children, school staff, and the nutrition programme staff; 
  • The names and contact details of the education officials (at the provincial level and the district level) that they can direct questions to and report problems to; and
  • When and how transport for learners living far from their nearest school will be provided."

Another concern is the quality of the food parcels, as some schools have reported that the meals do not have enough nutritional value.  

“School communities are telling us that the quality of some food parcels is shocking. They do not contain all the necessary food groups (starch, protein and fruit or vegetables) and cannot be considered nutritious.”

Equal Education said it will continue to check in on the minister to make sure the court order is followed. 

"Nothing is more undignified than starvation. And as the judgment says, hunger is an issue of justice."

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