The Eastern Cape department of education says it is ready to feed its 1,667,348 learners who benefit from the school nutrition programme in the province.
“The superintendent-general has given a go-ahead to all our schools to feed learners through either take-away or cooked meals as from 22 June,” Vuyiseka Mboxela, the department’s spokesperson, told Daily Maverick.
Mboxela said this covers all primary, secondary, combined and special schools in the province that have a feeding scheme.
Schools have to conduct a “situational analysis” to ensure that they have safety protocols in place to administer the feeding programme under Covid-19 regulations.
On 12 June, civil society groups Section27 and the Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) approached the North Gauteng High Court to compel the national department of education to resume the national school nutrition programme (NSNP).
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga made a pronouncement that feeding schemes at schools would resume when they reopened on 1 June but later backtracked from this decision, saying provinces needed time to prepare to operate under the new environment.
The court application argues that the minister is under a constitutional and statutory duty to ensure that the NSNP provides daily meals to all qualifying learners. Funding for this year’s programme has already been allocated to provinces.
Mboxela further added that the delay to resume the nutrition programme for all learners who qualify was as a result of a directive from the national department of health.
“Before we could [provide nutrition for all learners] we had to satisfy [the department of health’s] precautionary advice,” she said. DM