With more learners back at school, civil society organisations say they will continue to monitor the rollout of the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP).

Equal Education and Section 27 say they want to ensure the Department of Basic Education (DBE) upholds learners’ rights to basic nutrition. This includes learners who are only in school on certain days due to rotating timetables during lockdown. Those who have to stay out of school due to medical or other reasons should also receive meals.

The groups welcome the education department’s efforts to improve the rollout of the NSNP after the scheme was halted during lockdown.

“The DBE has updated NSNP monitoring tools and some provinces are developing electronic systems for reporting and monitoring information on the NSNP,” the organisations said in a joint statement. “The education departments developed communications plans so that learners and parents [or] caregivers would know that the NSNP had restarted.”

The organisations say they are also pleased that the department of basic education is raising awareness of its toll-free hotline. Communities can call the number to report any problems with the feeding scheme.

Accurate reporting

The civil organisations say still face challenges getting accurate information on the number of leaners who are receiving meals.

“In some cases it is unclear whether the data refers to all learners who are receiving meals, or only learners who are back at school, or only learners who are still at home,” they say.

They have written to Minister Angie Motshekga to provide clarity on this in her department’s next report.

“Feedback to us from school communities shows that there has been improvement in the rollout of the NSNP but there are still some obstacles that prevent learners from benefiting from the NSNP if they are not at school for classes. Many learners will not be at school every day, either because of social distancing arrangements in school or for medical reasons,” they said in a statement.

Nine million children rely on the feeding scheme. The programme fell away during the coronavirus lockdown. A judge ruled that the DBE must maintain the programme even if schools were closed, or learners are attending irregularly. – Health-e News.