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Lesotho teachers call for suspension of feeding scheme amid school closures

The Lesotho Association of Teachers said the education ministry’s decision to continue the feeding scheme programme contradicts government efforts to battle the spread of the coronavirus.

Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – Teachers have said the ministry of education should reverse its decision to continue school feeding programmes, while they are closed, fearing this will expose learners to the coronavirus.

The ministry’s justified the move, saying many learners rely on such initiatives. But the Lesotho Association of Teachers said the ministry’s decision contradicts government efforts to battle the virus.

Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane has decided schools should close to try to stem the spread of the virus. But the ministry of education says some learners get their only meal from feeding programmes.

The association’s Secretary-General Letsatsi Ntsibolane says the move will impact government efforts to fight the disease.

“As we speak tests are still being done in South Africa, we cannot wait until you have one Mosotho testing positive to the corona. So, those measures we applaud – but to our surprise, the ministry of education and training will subject these poor souls to this very deadly disease.”

Ntsibolane said the ministry’s reasons are not valid.

"Are we saying during winter vacations and December vacations these learners have something to eat, but it’s only during this crisis that they may have nothing to eat.”

The association said it has appealed to the ministry to retract its statement but has received no response.

Outside the mainly Chinese-run textile industry that employs 40,000 Basotho, the government gave Chinese businessman – Stone Shi – monopoly to export wool and mohair.

He has failed to pay farmers and single-handedly brought the once-lucrative industry to its knees, yet minister of finance Moeketsi Majoro announced in his budget speech that the government would bail him out, and pay 1,000 of those farmers.

To track the latest developments around the coronavirus both in South Africa and abroad, click on this live status report from Strategix.