Court orders DBE to resume National School Nutrition Programme

The ruling comes as a major victory for Equal Education, Section27, and two Limpopo school governing bodies who took government to court over the matter.

FILE: A pupil receives a meal at Kgato Primary School in Bloemfontein. Picture: Department of Basic Education/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - The High Court in Pretoria on Friday ordered the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to resume the National School Nutrition Programme to all eligible pupils with immediate effect regardless of whether they were back in class.

The ruling comes as a major victory for Equal Education, Section27, and two Limpopo school governing bodies who took government to court over the matter.

There had been mounting concerns that the lockdown period and the consequent closure of schools exacerbated hunger among children in the country who received their only daily meals at school.

In her ruling, acting deputy judge president Sulet Potterill acknowledged that children were categorically vulnerable, while poor hungry children were exceptionally vulnerable.

The National School Nutrition Programme reportedly caters to about nine million children across the country, many of whom were left destitute when schools were closed.

The lobby groups had argued that the COVID-19 state of disaster did not serve as a basis to deprive pupils of their right to nutrition.

The High Court’s judgment has given the DBE 10 days to detail plans on how the programme would be resumed.

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