“One of the saddest things I have seen,” says TUT lecturer Cheryl Ogilvy, “is about 14 hungry children fighting over scraps of food in a bucket when food for them at an Ndumo school ran out.” While these children went hungry, I saw teachers eating the school food and looking after themselves.
“The KwaZulu Natal Department of Education supplies R2,50 per child per day for food,” says Moses, one of the Ndumo teachers attending Tshwane University of Technology’s training here at Ndumo Game Reserve. ( I think it is closer to five rand).
Money is not supplied for teacher’s food because teachers are paid salaries.
I am attending TUT’s training day with 32 local teachers from about 25 nearby schools. The area is impoverished. The schools have no electricity, no water and few resources. Many don’t have enough classrooms for the students. There are not many textbooks at some, despite funding for them. All these problems were raised by teachers in yesterday’s training.
One of the teachers at the workshop said teaching staff eat school food to show the students that the food is good. Sometimes women at the school need to cook for 1000 students and the food is not tasty or even edible. Cheryl mentions she has seen children secretly throwing food away because it tastes terrible. And these are hungry children Cheryl is talking about. “The children only get fruit once or twice it month,” say the teachers.
Aside: I looked at the KZN Dept of Education menu last night. Children are supposed to get fruit 2 or 3 times a week.
“And the apples are rotten,” say two teachers in unison. There’s a lot of nodding and agreement.
One teacher starts talking: “We eat the food each day to show the children it is edible.”.
“Can’t one teacher do that?” asks Cheryl . “Why do 30 staff at a school teachers need to eat the students’ meals?” she adds. The room of 27 teachers is noisy as some disagree with her.
“But you have salaries,” says Cheryl. “You can pack a lunch for school.”
“No,” say some teachers- “we eat school lunches.”
“But,” adds teacher Moses, “the KZN Dept. of Education does not provide lunch money or food for teachers.”
Some of the 30 teachers don’t seem to care. They seem to feel the food is theirs to eat. Many, including Moses, disagree. For that I am glad.
But for the other few, I am disgusted. How can well paid teachers, who are Sandton millionaires in this community, steal from the children’s R2,50 or even R5 lunches?