Letter to editor: A child cannot learn on an empty stomach

By Safiyia Stanfley, MPL, DA Provincial Spokesperson on Education in the Northern Cape:

Sir,

A healthy start to the day is the best foundation for a good education. A child cannot learn on an empty stomach.

The Democratic Alliance in the Northern Cape therefore commends the department of Basic Education, the Sishen Solar Facility and the Tiger Brands Foundation for its expansion of the school nutrition programme in the province. Learners will now be offered a nutritious breakfast before the school day starts. We hope that this project will soon be extended to cover all communities in the province, since many learners in the Northern Cape can benefit from this approach.

A similar programme has been in operation in the Western Cape, where learners are served breakfast before school start and receive lunch during the day. More than 456 000 learners from 1 028 schools benefit from this programme. The benefits range from improving academic results to increasing retention rates.

A school nutrition programme which addresses the needs of the learners is a crucial component of social welfare. One in every four South Africans currently suffer hunger on a daily basis and skyrocketing unemployment will likely worsen the situation.

We need these programmes, so that learners from disadvantaged communities can focus on their studies without needing to stress about their stomachs.