Primary school pupils stand up to hunger

School pupils carrying boards with a message, saying that they don't need the supplier.

It was a dramatic morning at Dunuphozo Primary School and Shakaskraal SA Primary last Friday and this Monday – the pupils were hungry and the school cooks had not been paid.

At Dinuphozo, school was interrupted on Friday, when parents and children demonstrated outside the gate, asking for the school’s food supplier to be removed. They accused him of not supplying enough food (so the children’s food could not be cooked properly) and sometimes not supplying the food at all.

The majority of the school’s more than 1000 children are from disadvantaged homes so the single meal the school provides means a lot to them.

The seven cooks are being paid R1000 a month by the supplier.

According to one of the parents, who did not want to be named said they were also unhappy the supplier was not local.

“If the tender was given to a local person, who understands the meaning of a meal to a child of KwaDukuza, I am sure this would not happen.”

He said many of the children are on chronic medication and come from very poor families.

“They depend on this food to take their medication. The food that they are supposed to be getting at the school makes a huge difference in their lives. How can you expect a teacher to teach a child with an empty stomach?”

Deputy chairperson of the school’s governing body Nompumelelo Ngcobo said they had a meeting with the education department on Friday. It was agreed that the supplier would provide the school with food for only two more weeks and then a new supplier would be found. She said the school cooks had been paid their salaries and would be given an extra R200 as an apology for the late payment.

“After that, we need a new supplier because the one we had, is no longer welcome in our school. We are waiting for the director to tell us when we are getting a new supplier,” said Ngcobo.

In Shakaskraal SA, the food was supplied but the women employed to cook it were not paid. The women went on strike and the children joined them on Monday. According to a source at the school, the matter had been addressed and things are back to normal.

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Sboniso Dlamini

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