Cash-strapped KZN can’t feed all its hungry learners

By Sihle Mavuso

The KwaZulu-Natal Education Department has announced that it will cut the number of learners benefitting from its nutrition programme that provides meals to learners in mainly township and rural schools.

A 5% cut was announced by Nkosinathi Ngcobo, the head of the department, in a circular sent out on Monday.

Ngcobo said the department has funding issues that have forced them to effect the painful cuts. 

In the same document, which was leaked to Scrolla.Africa minutes after it was sent out, Ngcobo admitted that the KZN National School Nutrition Programme is experiencing budget constraints and that its grant allocation for 2024-25 is not enough to provide for all learners. 

“To accommodate all benefitting learners within the limited budget, the department had to force-balance the business plan by reducing the number of learners to be funded by 5%,” the circular said. 

This move was also aimed at mitigating against over-expenditure of the allocated grant. 

“This arrangement was then termed allocations based on ‘Funded Enrolments’ which is 95% of learners in a school or 95% of the approved enrolment,” Ngcobo wrote. 

The programme is not new to controversy. When it was started last year, the centralised buying system resulted in schools going for months without food. 

Some schools had to temporarily suspend lessons because they couldn’t teach hungry learners.

Muzi Mahlambi, the department’s spokesperson, had not responded by the time of publication after Scrolla.Africa had asked him to state exactly how many learners would be affected by the cut.

The department has since withdrawn the circular.

Pictured above: A school meal. 

Image source: Stock


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