E Cape local farmers to supply schools with fresh produce

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Bisho - The Eastern Cape government wants small-scale farmers to benefit from the school nutrition programme by supplying fresh produce to their local schools.

This was announced by Education MEC Mandla Makapula during a presentation to the Eastern Cape legislature’s education portfolio committee on Wednesday.

MEC Makapula told committee members that the department was working on a local farmer development programme that seeks to give local farmers an opportunity to directly provide schools in their areas with fresh produce.

The pilot will be in one circuit per district to test the inclusion of local fresh food producers in the school nutrition programme. The benefits of this would be increased access to healthier food for school learners through supporting local food producers who would benefit financially from this new market.

At the moment, the department engages service providers who are given contracts to supply hot meals to schools on a daily basis. The school nutrition programme in the Eastern Cape has in the past been marred by inflation of prices by rogue service providers.

MEC Makapula said the school nutrition programme was increasing learner enrolment and retention at schools in the province. 

“Most of the children in the province come from poor families as a result some go to school because a meal a day is guaranteed. This year (school nutrition programme) has been allocated R1.1 billion and this caters for new innovations such as the piloting of new delivery models,” he said.

Coupled with the No Fee School programme, these interventions were having a direct positive impact on the most indigent families in the Eastern Cape.

“Up to 93% of Eastern Cape learners are currently benefitting from the No Fee policy compared to the 80.5% learners in 2009. The No Fee School program has made it possible for the poorest of the poor to access education at no cost to parents. The Department of Education has allocated R2 billion to cater for the national funding norms and standards,” said MEC Makupula.

Refurbishment of school hostels

The MEC said the department has also identified seven school hostels for refurbishment in 2016. Schools whose hostels are earmarked for repair include legendary ones such as Healdtown High School, Thubalethu High school, Nomsa Frans High School, Riebeek East High School, Makaula High School, Smuts Ndamase High School and Clarkebury High School.

“These hostels are now at different stages of development. Three of them are at various stages of construction, and four are undergoing design for construction,” he said.

Addressing the issue of inappropriate structures being used for learning, the MEC said 414 pre-fabricated classrooms were currently being delivered to schools with dilapidated structures and those that are overcrowded. – SAnews.gov.za-TLM

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