Free State office of Education MEC gets priority over feeding learners

Issued by Mariette Pittaway – DA Free State Spokesperson: Education
24 May 2024 in Press Statements

Note to editors: Please find attached English and Afrikaans soundbites by Mariette Pittaway MPL and Sesotho by Jafta Mokoena MPL.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has learned that the National School Nutrition programme at certain schools in QwaQwa, Maluti-a-Phofung has stopped due to non-payment from the Department of Education. The DA has a copy of a letter sent to Sekgothadi Primary School in Phuthaditjhaba informing the school that the programme has been stopped. The DA found that more schools were affected.

The National School Nutrition Programme is a government programme that provides one nutritious meal to all learners in poorer primary and secondary schools.

On a question submitted by the DA, to the MEC of Education, earlier this year enquiring how much was spent to refurbish his office, the reply received was R848 002.00. Breakdown of the cost of some of the furniture:

  • Wallpaper on wood-covered columns totalling R 19 850.00
  • Four Liberty Chairs covered in Galileo blue moon at R15 190.00 each totalling R60 850.00
  • Six Berlize Swivel Chairs at R9 960.00 each, totalling R59 760.00
  • Thick Red Oak Desk at R 45 900.00
  • Glass/Black Coffee Table at R18 890.00
  • Three Pots with artificial plants and bark totalling R 15 600.00
  • Drinks Cabinet at R 42 000.00

The prioritisation of office furniture over a critical program such as nutrition raises questions about the department’s commitment to the holistic development and welfare of learners. The National Nutrition program plays a pivotal role in ensuring that learners have access to nutritious meals, directly impacting their ability to concentrate and perform well academically. At some of these schools, this is the only meal the learner will receive for the day.

The decision to allocate substantial funds towards office furniture at the expense of these learners reflects a misplaced sense of priorities and undermines the department’s mandate to provide quality education for all learners.

We must urgently implement change to rescue our children from a failing basic education system, and the only way to achieve this is through the ballot box. On 29 May, let’s vote to prioritise our children’s education and well-being and secure brighter futures for them.