South Africa: Nutrition Programme Helping Millions of Learners

Pretoria — Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) helps learners to concentrate better and perform well at school.

The Minister on Friday said more than 75% of public school learners receive a balanced meal daily through the NSNP.

She said this addressing nominees and recipients of the 2016 National Education Excellence Awards gathered at Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria.

The 2016 National Education Excellence Awards recognise excellent performance in districts in the National Senior Certificate examinations. They also reward excellence in the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP), which feeds over 9.2 million learners on a daily basis in the country.

Minister Motshekga said access to quality education for all of South Africa’s children is largely dependent on individual schools that continue to give their all to ensure they deliver the best quality possible. She said access to quality education is dependent on districts that are well led, well managed and take seriously their responsibility to support all schools and teachers within their jurisdiction so they can deliver quality basic education that all learners in the system deserve.

“It is those districts and schools that we will be celebrating today,” she said.

Motheo District in the Free State received the NSNP: Best District Award. Seithati Intermediate School in the Free State received the NSNP: Best School Award. Representing Motheo District was Thabo Masheane, who said the achievement will motivate his district to keep delivering the best services and it will also inspire schools to comply with NSNP policies.

“This will also show other districts that they can do better if they change their attitudes,” said Masheane, who works as a Learner Support Coordinator for the NSNP in Motheo.

He said there are 234 schools under the district that benefit from the nutrition programme but some schools in the district do not comply.

“They do not look at NSNP as part of the curriculum. They think it is interfering with the curriculum whereas it actually helps learners because learners cannot concentrate in class when hungry,” he said.

Part of the package for winning the Best District Award is getting office furniture worth R50 000.

Seithati Intermediate School Principal Redmond Kwababa said his school has a tradition of “collective effort and collective leadership”, and being rewarded for the efforts will impact enormously on the school.

“Our school has got vulnerable learners, learners affected by and living with HIV/Aids. At the moment, we have 601 learners in our school. All of them benefit from NSNP. We ensure that when they come to school, they get something to eat. Winning this award is going to assist our school and community in a tremendous way because our learners will not only be served lunch but also breakfast for the next coming three years,” he said.

He said the school also assists some learners with supper.

The award means that the school will receive new kitchen utensils and a sponsorship for feeding learners breakfast, among other things.

Basic Education Deputy Minister Enver Surty congratulated the recipients of the awards.

“We also want to take this opportunity to thank our food handlers who prepare the meals for our children on a daily basis,” said the Deputy Minister.

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