First Lady Dr Tshepo Motsepe advocates for child nutrition at Right to Nutrition campaign launch in Finetown

Real Reform for ECD has taken a significant step to combat poor nutrition among young children with the launch of its Right to Nutrition campaign dedicated to ensuring that eligible young children attending early learning programs in South Africa receive adequate nutrition, promoting their holistic development.

The Right to Nutrition campaign was launched on Friday, 3 November, at the Finetown Multipurpose Centre with South Africa’s First Lady, Dr Tshepo Motsepe, serving as the keynote speaker.

Real Reform for ECD (RR4ECD), a movement advocating for holistic, well-funded, inclusive, and quality early childhood development services for all children, has been leading the charge in creating a legal and policy environment conducive to the growth and expansion of ECD services. The Right to Nutrition campaign is a direct result of extensive research conducted by three research task teams. Their research focused on understanding the right to nutrition, defining what constitutes adequate nutrition, and exploring ways for the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to implement a robust ECD nutrition program.

The campaign urges the DBE to provide nutrition support to all eligible children attending early learning programs, regardless of whether the program is registered or not. RR4ECD coordinator Tshepo Mantje emphasized the importance of not neglecting the most vulnerable children, especially those in unregistered programs, who have the most to gain from nutrition support.

The organisers expressed their hope that the campaign would raise awareness about the significance of early childhood nutrition and the potential for an ECD nutrition program, similar to the National Schools Nutrition Program by the DBE, which provides meals to approximately 9 million underprivileged learners in primary and secondary schools daily.

Leaners from Lenasia South’s Tshepiso Kiddies World

Sharing her vision for the campaign, Dr Motsepe said: “It’s our collective duty to ensure that young children in South Africa are given every opportunity to thrive. It is their fundamental right to have access to adequate nutrition. I acknowledge the role that the Department of Basic Education must play in providing adequate nutrition to our children across all communities in SA. The success of this campaign relies on the collaborative efforts and unwavering support from both government and non-governmental organisations.”

She added: “This is a call to action that extends to all stakeholders related to the ECD sector – the development, care, and nutrition of their children. The right to nutrition is non-negotiable. May our collective efforts bring love and nourishment to the future generations of South Africa – one nutritious meal at a time.”

Panelists during one of the sessions

The main event included a panel discussion with a Q&A session. The panel featured research representatives Kayin Scholtz from Umnedi, Anna-Marie Müller of the DG Murray Trust, and Tatiana Kazim from the Equal Education Law Centre, alongside Nonhlanhla Dzingwa, an ECD Principal from Orange Farm, Carina Müller, the Chief Education Specialist at the Department of Basic Education, and Ruby Motaung, the Director of Tree-ECD.

Carina Müller of the DBE delivered some promising news, saying: “The DBE will be launching a Pilot soon to test how they can ensure adequate nutrition support to early learning programs. The Pilot will most likely include more rural provinces.”

Real Reform for ECD’s coordinator, Tshepo Mantje, welcomed this development and hopes that the research produced by this campaign will support the DBE in developing a national ECD nutrition program. He urged the DBE to extend nutrition support to all eligible children in early learning programs, emphasizing the importance of not overlooking the needs of children in unregistered programs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *