Programme Director, Mr Clarence Ford
Director at Shoprite, Mr Brian Weyers
Principal of Nerina Primary, Mr Quinton Paulse
Former Springbok coach, Mr Pieter de Villiers
Leaders and community of Bonteheuwel
Members of the School Governing Body
Ladies and Gentleman,
I’m very pleased to be here as we celebrate a remarkable achievement, the 10 million cups of soup and bread that the Shoprite Group has made possible for thousands of people, especially children, senior citizens and the unemployed.
Since 1994, we’ve made significant gains in improving lives. However, poverty, inequality and unemployment continue to affect many people, in particular, the workers and the poor.
The 2009 General Household Survey has shown that an estimated 20% of South African households have inadequate or severely inadequate access to food, thus making Shoprite’s social responsibility the more welcome.
Micronutrient deficiencies affect nearly two billion people worldwide. Deficiencies of Iron, vitamin A, Iodine, and Zinc among children are said to be the most devastating in terms of impaired development, ill-health and death.
Iron deficiency is the most common form of micronutrient deficiency among school-age children. It delays children’s cognitive development and therefore learning.
Children with iron deficiency perform worse on educational tests than other children and are less likely to attend school.
The Department of Basic Education has rightly identified this as a significant indicator of child vulnerability as it reflects the need for psychosocial support and other interventions, including provision of meals for children to cope in school.
In 2010, out of 11 809 million learners in public schools, approximately 826 655 thousand or 7% were orphans.
Delivering the State of the Nation Address in 2010, President Jacob Zuma called on all South Africans to make education a societal issue. Since then, many citizens from all walks of life have responded positively, including Corporate South Africa with various pledges of support and partnerships.
I thank the Shoprite Group for its vision and commitment as demonstrated by the milestone we’re here to celebrate.
I am particularly pleased that Shoprite has paid particular attention to ensuring that the nutritional value and micronutrient content of the soup and bread are superior.
We welcome also the patriotic move on your part to expand the food programme to our continent, starting with Namibia and Zambia. I challenge Shoprite to reach out even to other African countries where it does business for the reason that there can never be a better South Africa without a better Africa just as there can never be a better world without a better Africa.
Given the link between poverty and education, free schooling and school meals are part of government’s pro-poor policies.
We provide cooked meals to over 8 million learners every school day and will continue investing massively in the School Nutrition Programme. The National School Nutrition Programme Conditional Grant now amounts to R4.907 billion.
We have observed improvements in enrolment, school attendance and participation in class, as well as reduced absenteeism. We need to further demonstrate improvement in learning outcomes – this is the ultimate success.
Government cannot do this alone. We need to work much harder, together with corporate South Africa, to ensure every South African is food secure.
In addition to meals, the National School Nutrition Programme has a second equally important pillar on nutrition education, intended to promote lifelong, healthy lifestyle habits and choices among learners, parents and communities.
Habits developed at a tender age can be sustained throughout adult life. This we do through the Life Skills subject as well as campaigns and special events.
Good eating habits and being physically active are the foundation for a healthy lifestyle.
Thirdly, the programme encourages all schools to cultivate food gardens for learners to gain critical skills of food production, in line with other poverty alleviation initiatives.
Lastly, I sincerely wish to express our gratitude to Shoprite for the “Ten Million Cups of Hope”.
Achieving this milestone of distributing at least 300 000 cups of soup and bread per month, especially taking children on board, shows a commitment, on the part of Shoprite, substantially to improve people’s lives and respond practically to the President’s call, to make education a societal issue.
‘Thank you’ to all partners in this initiative, including: Albany; Mars Africa; Mercedes Benz South Africa; Toyota South Africa; Volkswagen South Africa and Sasko. We look forward to 10 million more “Cups of Hope and Learning” and trust that we can count on your support in 2012 and beyond.
Allow me to use this moment also to extend our gratitude to our teachers here with us, for their hard work.
We will improve learner performance and learner wellbeing to the extent that all teachers discharge all their responsibilities.
Working for a primary school, like Nerina, means you have got to help us lay a solid foundation for South Africa’s children.
We call upon all teachers, and all learners, again, to be in school, in class, on time, teaching and learning for at least 7 hours a day.
Working together we can improve quality of education.
I thank you.