R354m for Mpuma feeding scheme

Friday, March 5, 2010

Nelspruit - Mpumalanga's department of education will spend R354-million to feed school children in the province in the 2010/2011 financial year.

Department spokesperson Jasper Zwane said the money was part of the R11.5-billion allocated to it by finance MEC Pinky Phosa.

"The department will use this budget to provide nutrition to learners in our poorest schools across the province. As the MEC [for education, Reginah Mhaule] once explained, hunger has been shown to contribute to reduced school attendance and impaired cognitive capacity," said Zwane on Friday.

The department has appointed 67 suppliers in the four regions of the province, with one supplier per school circuit. Bushbuckridge has 14 school circuits, Ehlanzeni 15, Gert Sibande 18 and Nkangala 20.

The biggest region is Ehlanzeni, which received R96-million, followed by Gert Sibande at R84-million, Bushbuckridge at R80-million and Nkangala at R79-million.

"The number of learners in the region determines the allocation. The tender is for the delivery of bulk foodstuffs and perishable products to schools. Therefore, transportation costs are inclusive," said Zwane.

During the 2009/2010 financial year, the department catered for 574 000 pupils in 1 400 primary schools and 48 588 pupils in quintile one secondary schools, which are regarded as the poorest secondary schools in the province.

Zwane said R6.4-million from the budget would be used for head office administration in Nelspruit, while R7.6-million would be used "to prepare" for more high schools becoming part of the school nutrition programme.

Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza is in the process of handing over control of the administration of the school nutrition programme to school governing bodies.

The amount allocated for the school nutrition programme will increase to R440.9-million in the 2011/2012 and R474.5-million in the 2012/2013 financial years, respectively.

"The increase is to protect the real value [of the school nutrition programme] and respond to higher food prices [in the future]," Phosa said.