SADTU Western Cape Media Statement on WCED School Feeding Plan

7 April 2020

“The Western Cape government is undermining the President’s plan to limit the spread of COVID 19 virus in the country,” SADTU says.

SADTU Western Cape wants to indicate that the union is equally anxious that working class learners and their families do not have access to food during this lockdown period. However, the Union believes the plan by the Western Cape government to feed the learners in schools will defeat attempts to curb the spread of COVID 19 and put the lives of vulnerable working class learners at risk.

We believe that this programme undermines the President’s efforts to curb the spread of COVID 19 and may cause irreparable damage to Government’s attempts to stop the spread to the virus

The union was informed and not consulted, about the Western Cape Education Department’s decision to the open schools for a school feeding programme.

This plan was communicated to schools over the weekend and the unions were briefed on Monday.

The Western Cape Government cannot be working in isolation as if it is a federal state outside of the broader Republic of South Africa. We have seen the conflicting views on the sale of cigarettes in past weeks. The Western Cape government wants to do its own thing again by calling on the learners to go back to schools for feeding purposes. We ask ourselves if this is not politicking.

The union welcomes attempts to provide food to learners; however, we raise the following concerns:

  • Is the WCED’s plan not in violation of the National Disaster regulations? If implemented, the plan will see thousands of learners from working-class communities gathering outside of schools to receive meals;
  • Will this not be in direct violation of lockdown regulations which allow for not more than 50 people to gather at a time? How are schools going to implement these regulations and manage the lines outside the schools and in the school grounds?
  • Will this not result in thousands of indigent learners roaming the streets which is a direct violation of the instructions to stay at home?
  • Will this not result in the possible spread of the COVID19 virus whilst the country is attempting to flatten the curve? One of the biggest concerns is that working-class communities may be the most vulnerable to the spread of the virus;
  • How are schools going to manage collecting the data of learners, whilst staff are trying to manage the lines and get learners to maintain social distances, since no security personnel will be provided?
  • Schools are required to provide their own hand sanisters, soap, masks and gloves to the workers, if available;
  • Learners from all schools should be catered for, with the learners from the host schools getting priority. What happens if the food runs out at the school, resulting in a stampede?What will the impact be if the crowds are too large to handle?

SADTU is anxious that this plan will lead to chaos in our communities, and therefore propose the following:

  • That all distribution initiatives from Department of Social Development, religious fraternities, NGOs, NPOs be pooled into a food bank to provide indigent families with food parcels during these trying times;
  • The data bases of all the above organizations be used to identify learners and their families;
  • Food parcels to be distributed in an equitable and transparent manner.
  • Food donations be sent district offices and then sent to the food bank
  • Food parcels be delivered to the homes;
  • SADTU is willing to participate in a programme which includes the distribution of food parcels as proposed above;
  • Where safety measures are not put in place to protect the learners and the staff, the Union advises that members are mindful of the safety implications to the learners, colleagues and families;
  • The union calls on the employer not to victimize any worker who chooses not to participate in this programme due to safety concerns;
  • SADTU calls on the WCED to think about the safety of the learners, teachers and their families;
  • SADTU cannot endorse this plan because there are too many risks to our learners and staff;
  • That the WCED abandon its current plan and adopt the proposal made by the union.         

We again call on all South Africans to abide by the Government’s lockdown regulations; stay at home, wash your hands with soap or sanitisers and keep social distances.   

For further information please contact

Jonavon Rustin: Provincial Secretary: 0836335714
Sibongile Kwazi: Deputy Provincial secretary: 0836278006