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‘I do not have enough food at home’

Covid-19

Child Hunger

‘I do not have enough food at home’

Children wait to receive foods in Ocean View, Cape Town, South Africa, 13 April 2020. (Photo: EPA-EFE/NIC BOTHMA)

Pamela, 18, lives in Delft in the Western Cape and is a Grade 12 learner at Marian High School in Elsies River. She lives with her parents and her four siblings, of which three are also learners in Grades 1, 2 and 5 at Symphony Primary School.

SECTION27 and the Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) have approached the court on behalf of a number of learners, parents, teachers and school governing bodies in an attempt to get the government to feed millions of children who have gone hungry since the schools closed during the Covid-19 lockdown.

It was hoped that, once schools started re-opening, the school feeding schemes, which are planned and budgeted for, would resume in full. However, the Minister and the Department of Basic Education have opted, for now, to only feed Grade 7 and 12 children.

SECTION27 and EELC have filed a number of affidavits on behalf of their clients – Equal Education and the School Governing Bodies of two schools.

Maverick Citizen has been given access to affidavits from the SECTION27 and EELC clients and they make for harrowing reading. They tell a story of extreme hunger and poverty, but also of a government that has to be dragged to court to compel them to feed children who desperately need one meal a day, who have no source of food other than the school feeding scheme.

Learners’ affidavits, particularly, make for stomach-churning reading, but it is important to read their stories to try to understand the lived realities of people in small, off-the-map, far-flung villages in South Africa. People, even worse children, going hungry in South Africa is unforgivable. It is also important to pay tribute to the bravery of teachers, parents, school governing bodies and learners who are speaking out despite being fearful of intimidation and losing their jobs.

We publish extracts from 15 affidavits and even though these documents will become public in the courts, SECTION27 and EELC requested that we do not identify their clients by name for fear of intimidation.

Affidavit 11

Pamela, 18, lives in Delft in the Western Cape and is a Grade 12 learner at Marian High School in Elsies River. She lives with her parents and her four siblings, of which three are also learners in Grades 1, 2 and 5 at Symphony Primary School.

‘I find it extremely difficult to study and learn when I am hungry.’

“My four siblings are the recipients of a Child Support Grant, but I do not receive the grant. My school usually offers daily meals by way of the NSNP to all the learners enrolled at my school. I used to receive a meal two times per day at school.

“On 18 March 2020, my school was closed. While my school was closed, I did not receive any meals through the NSNP. However, I have been receiving food, once a week, from a community feeding scheme in my community.

“As far as I am aware, my school did not open during the lockdown to provide learners with food.

“My family and I do not have enough food at home. This is stressful because both my parents are not working owing to the lockdown. I find it extremely difficult to study and learn when I am hungry. I lack concentration. The meals that I was receiving at school were very helpful to me.

“On 1 June 2020, my school reopened. Since then we have again been receiving school meals, twice daily. It is heartbreaking that I am now receiving meals at my schools while my younger siblings and other learners who are still at home are not receiving any school meals. It is not only Grade 7 and 12 learners who were dependent on the school feeding scheme. All learners should be provided with food once school reopen for Grades 7 and 12.” DM/MC

Gallery

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