Equal Eduaction welcomes court ruling forcing dept to feed pupils

This applies even when schools are closed due to COVID-19 or learners are at home because of rotating timetables.

Screengrab from Equal Education's campaign video calling for the Department of Basic Education to feed pupils.

CAPE TOWN - Equal Education has on Wednesday welcomed a High Court order that requires officials to develop new plans to feed over 9 million pupils dependent on the National School Nutrition Programme.

This applies even when schools are closed due to COVID-19 or learners are at home because of rotating timetables.

According to Equal Education, the Department of Basic Education was in breach of a previous court order granted a year ago that directed officials to ensure qualifying pupils were given a daily meal, whether they were attending school or not.

Equal Education said the ruling was a victory for learners' rights to basic nutrition, basic education, equality and dignity.

Millions of households across the country have had their food security compromised during the COVID-19 lockdown and more recently during incidents of violence and looting.

The organisation said it was hopeful that the new plans the national and provincial education departments had been ordered to develop would improve the rollout of the nutrition programme and guarantee a meal reached every learner who needed it.

Equal Education said the situation had become increasingly urgent over the past few months with qualifying learners not being able to get meals because of barriers such as not having scholar transport or poor communication between education officials and school communities.

It adds the mental, physical and financial impact a lack of food has had on learners and their families is tragic and unacceptable.

Download the Eyewitness News app to your iOS or Android device.