292 of 500 signatures

The Limpopo Department of Education committed in court papers to provide transport to learners so that they can receive meals from their schools. But at least 40 learners from Rantshu Primary School in Mashashane are not receiving meals regularly as some live as far as eight kilometres from the school and cannot afford transportation. The Limpopo Department of Basic Education’s (DBE) excuse for not providing transport is that the school is not listed as a beneficiary of scholar transport [1]. Should low-income learners go hungry, because their school is not a current beneficiary of scholar transport?

The court has already ordered Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga to immediately roll out school feeding schemes to about 9 million learners, regardless of whether they are attending school or not. The effects of COVID19 have been devastating for many low-income families; hunger has doubled since the beginning of the national lockdown [2]. With our weak social relief measures and all the job cuts, this is the worst time for the Limpopo DBE to be denying learners meals that they desperately need in order to survive.

When we demanded that the Child Support Grant (CSG) be topped up by R500 per child, it was to avoid the situation we are now facing - children going hungry. We wanted pro-poor measures to support families facing increased poverty and food insecurity during and after lockdown [3]. The government did not give us what we demanded, so right now we must make sure that the government uses other means at its disposal, such as school feeding schemes, to make sure children are fed.

When the government does not play its part to help low-income families, the burden to feed these families falls mostly on the shoulders of already struggling low-income black women. With people power, we can build enough pressure to amplify the voices of low-income families in rural areas, who are often ignored by the government. If we act now we can prevent the children of Rantshu Primary School and other Limpopo learners from missing any further meals. We can ensure that the DBE in Limpopo lives up to its legal obligation to transport learners in order to ensure that they are receiving all their meals.

Dear Limpopo MEC for Education, Polly Boshielo,

We the undersigned, call on you to fulfil your department’s legal obligation to provide scholar transport for learners to collect meals from their schools. Learners should not be denied meals even if their schools are not current beneficiaries of scholar transport.

[1] These learners are not getting school meals because transport to school costs too much, Bernard Chiguvare for GroundUp, 02 September 2020.

[2] Covid-19: Children eat wild plants to survive as hunger explodes, Justin Brown for GroundUp, 16 July 2020.

[3] Coalition calls on Cabinet to reconsider relief grants allocation, Children’s Institute - University of Cape Town, 28 April 2020.

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