NEWS & ANALYSIS

DBE catering overspend could have fed nearly 2 million children - Sonja Boshoff

Party says department’s food budget shot up from R7.4 million to R26 million this year

DBE over-expenditure on catering could have fed nearly 2 million children

The Annual Report of the Department of Basic Education (DBE) shows that, not only has there been a massive increase in the department’s catering budget – which is up from R7.4 million in the previous financial year to R26 million this year – but that the DBE have overspent on this budget by R5 million. 

The same amount of money could been used to provide breakfast to nearly two million (1 831 501) primary school-children for one day or 91 000 primary school children at school for a month.

Children in the poorest schools – quintile 1 to 3 – are provided with one meal a day by the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP). The ability to provide another meal, such as breakfast would go a long a way to improving their nutrition and ability to absorb their lessons.

On average, it costs R2.73 and R3.55 a day to feed a primary and secondary school child respectively, according to the most recent data.

The DA will request that the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, decrease the amount of funding for departmental catering and commit to ensuring that this money is better spent on feeding children in an effort to improve their ability to learn.  

Many children rely on the NSNP for their only meal of the day and it is deeply concerning that the DBE overspends on an already large budget when children are going hungry.

Hundreds of thousands of South African children go to school on empty stomachs every day. The fact is that children who are hungry cannot learn. Teachers constantly struggle to hold the attention of under-nourished learners, and many studies conducted by the government, NGOs and research groups show the negative consequences of poor nutrition on the learning ability of our children.

The DBE’s massive catering budget as well as the over expenditure is indefensible. The Minster must get her priorities straight and put the education of our children first.

Issued by Sonja Boshoff, DA Member on Basic Education Portfolio Committee, 2 October 2015