More than 1,000 students at a school in Limpopo are starving every day because a service provider contracted by the ministry of primary education has failed to deliver food this month.
According to the school board (SGB), the last time students were given good food at the school was in July 2021.
Therefore, classes at Lephalala Primary School in Botlokwa, outside Polokwane, are only held from 07:00 to 11:00. After 11 a.m., students and teachers should pack their bags and leave, the SGB said on Tuesday.
The school has 1,172 students.
Evelyn Phosa, the secretary of the school board, said it had been hell for the students and the teachers for seven months.
“Some of these students come from poor families. Others are families with children with no parents to care for them. That’s how important this nutrition program is for us, parents, teachers and the students,” said Phosa.
Phosa said the supplier started supplying food in a dribbling way last July.
“He started by delivering half of what was expected and later he delivered late or not at all. This month the problem got out of hand. Nothing has been delivered since the beginning of this month. When we ask him, he will make promises and later send us from pillar to post. Because of this, some children started stacking because they were hungry.”
“We’ve had numerous discussions with the department about the matter, but nothing came of the discussion. We are happy that action has been taken and things are returning to normal. But we don’t want to repeat this because when children fail, teachers and parents are always to blame,” says Phosa.
Sylvia Letsoalo, a parent with two children at the school, said she has been forced to use her children’s grant to buy food that her children then took to school.
“I am an unemployed single mother of five children. I use Social Security to put bread on the table for my family. So buying more food to take to school was more exorbitant for me because in this family we always eat hand to mouth,” she said.
On Monday, the Ministry of Primary Education in Polokwane said it has taken note of the situation at the school and said it will investigate and take action where possible.
“I have determined that the breach of contract has indeed been identified and that the process to suspend the service provider’s services is finalizing today. We are going to appoint a temporary service provider to take over, while the defaulting service provider will have a month to fix the problem,” said Martin Mashaba, the acting spokesperson for Limpopo’s education department.
“If he does not take steps to correct the breach of contract, we will terminate his contract,” Mashaba said.