Kabokweni District, outside Nelspruit (Mpumalanga) joined the Foundation’s in-school breakfast feeding programme following the NSNP ‘Best Schools Award’ won by Tsembalefethu Primary School in 2012. The breakfast programme is currently operating in 3 schools feeding just over 2500 learners each school day.
High levels of poverty, HIV/AIDS and child-headed households add to the challenges the principals deal with and combined with a full enrolment and the ‘all inclusive’ policy, contributes to the workload for the school management teams and governing bodies. The principals and their educators are remarkably proactive and positive as they go about their school day and encouraging their learners; they make it work regardless of the limited resources and funding. Each school is clean, well cared for, learners show good discipline and work diligently in their classrooms.
These schools share similar stories of the in-school breakfast feeding contributing to the reduction of late-comers, absenteeism, community participation and overall improvement in learners’ physical well being and academic achievements.
As we have witnessed in our time of visiting the schools in the Foundation’s programme, these schools have implemented their own projects to add more value to their schools and learners.
- Vegetable gardens have been planted to supplement the lunch provided but more importantly to offer further help to the OVCs and vulnerable families. Learners are proud to manage the gardens and learn how to make the gardens successful;
- Water is an ongoing problem which is cleverly overcome by the use of the ‘tippy tap’ system;
- Mthayiza Primary School has developed a homework club with Gr 12 learners;
- Gutjwa Primary School has implemented a merit system to monitor the educators and address issues immediately to maintain their teaching standards;
- Learners’ medication is managed after breakfast which has made a significant impact on their general health;
- The ‘all inclusive’ policy has been accepted well despite the schools not having the right infrastructure to handle physically disabled learners. Of particular note, Tsembalefethu Primary can all communicate in sign language. A delightful experience to watch a class of learners greet our team in sign language.
The ‘health promoting school’ initiative created as a partnership between the Departments of Health, Social Development and Education is working effectively with learners receiving inoculations regularly and young girls the cervical cancer vaccine. This initiative combined with the in-school feeding offers these very vulnerable learners a fighting chance to realise their full potential.