We cannot feed pupils during lockdown, says Angie Motshekga

26 March 2020 - 15:15
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga says her department is unable to continue with the school feeding scheme during the lockdown.
Image: GCIS Basic education minister Angie Motshekga says her department is unable to continue with the school feeding scheme during the lockdown.

Education minister Angie Motshekga said on Thursday that the department has abandoned its school nutrition programme - which feeds close to 10-million pupils - during the national lockdown.

Motshekga was briefing the media in Pretoria about her department's plan for lockdown.

She said the feeding scheme depended on teachers, who weren't at work, and schools, which were closed.

To this end, Motshekga said she has handed over the school nutrition function to social development minister Lindiwe Zulu to run with it, if she could.

Said Motshekga: “Outside our infrastructure, which is schools and teachers, we are unable to feed children in communities during the lockdown. It is going to be impossible to track the 9.6-million children we are feeding and say we are running the feeding scheme during the lockdown.

“We agreed with MECs of education in our meeting this morning that it is mission impossible - we will not be able to do it.”

But Motshekga said when it came to learning and teaching continuing during the lockdown, the department had everything under control.

Among other measures it has put in place is broadcasting lessons via SABC TV, a dedicated learning channel to be opened on DStv as well as another on eTV's OpenviewHD.

Some lessons will be provided via the 18 SABC radio stations as well as all community radio stations, she added.

Moreover, said Motshekga, some learning lessons will be available online and electronically accessed for free courtesy of all major mobile networks in the country, namely Vodacom, MTN, Telkom and Cell C.

The department would also promote “learning for enjoyment” to keep pupils busy beyond academic reading.

The minister urged parents to also play their part and keep a close eye on their children.

As for when schools will reopen, Motshekga said the date will be communicated later depending on what happens with Covid-19 in South Africa.

“The truth is that with MECs in our teleconference meeting this morning we deliberated on the reopening of schools. The real date will be communicated officially later, and it will depend on how we carry ourselves during lockdown, whether the curve flattens or not.

“As the department, we are finalising a standard operating procedure to provide guidance to teachers and learners on how to prepare for reopening of schools.

“The content we are working on has been carefully curated to be available online and for broadcast. We have also updated the website with current and relevant content and would like to encourage learners and parents to visit the website,” she said.

Motshekga said the schedule for the lessons that will be broadcast will be available on the department's website as well as all its social media platforms.