Department of Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has said that it will be “mission impossible” to track down some nine million children enrolled in school feeding schemes during the lockdown.
Adressing the media on Thursday 26 March, she also said that there is “no telling” when schools will reopen as the country faces an uncertain period of time.
“We will listen to the president,” she said.
Feeding schemes falter amid national lockdown
Motshekga said that she could not promise that children who rely on state-funded school feeding programmes would be taken care of during the lockdown, as it was near impossible to keep track of all nine million children’s movements.
“Outside our infrastructure, which is schools and teachers, we are unable to feed children in communities during the lockdown. It is going to be impossible to track the 9.6 million children we are feeding and say we are running the feeding scheme during the lockdown.
“We agreed with MECs of education in our meeting this morning that it is mission impossible – we will not be able to do it.”
No certain answer on when schools will reopen
On the matter of when exactly parents could expect their children to be able to return to school, Motshekga conceded that due to the difficulty in putting a time-frame on the coronavirus crisis and its resolution, it was difficult to provide concrete answers.
“The truth is that with MECs in our teleconference meeting this morning we deliberated on the reopening of schools. The real date will be communicated officially later, and it will depend on how we carry ourselves during lockdown, whether the curve flattens or not.”
She said that reading materials and lessons would be available through state broadcasters, such as SABC, and via radio channels to keep children in the learning frame during the lockdown.
“As the department, we are finalising a standard operating procedure to provide guidance to teachers and learners on how to prepare for reopening of schools.
“The content we are working on has been carefully curated to be available online and for broadcast. We have also updated the website with current and relevant content and would like to encourage learners and parents to visit the website,” she said.
Motshekga’s predecessor Naledi Pandor was tested for the coronavirus on Thursday and has entered self-isolation.