Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
GOVERNMENT is set to resume the schools feeding programme whose aim is to nourish learners and reduce absenteeism due to hunger.
Government initiated the schools feeding programme whereby schools are given grain which they process into maize meal and beans to prepare meals for learners.
Some schools had added value and sourced different kinds of relish to complement the allocation. However, the programme was abruptly suspended this year and Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Evelyn Ndlovu told education experts and partners in Victoria Falls that this was because of corruption in the procurement processes but the programme is making a comeback.
Minister Ndlovu was responding to concerns by delegates who attendant the week-long Strategic Choices for Education Reform in Eastern and Southern Africa meeting in Victoria Falls.
The meeting started last week on Saturday and ended yesterday.
It was hosted by the World Bank and Global Partnership for Education and was attended by education directors and Permanent Secretaries from Eastern and Southern Africa, including education partners.
Delegates visited six schools in and around Victoria Falls where they commended the country’s education approach but expressed concern on the lack of feeding programmes.
Mr Phathugwalo Masuku, the headmaster of Chamabondo Primary School said during a visit to the school that there are some learners who needed to be fed as lack of food was affecting their performance.
“We cannot feed the children on a daily basis because of budgetary constraints. It is true that we have some learners who cannot come to school well-nourished and that is affecting their performance in class. We wish the feeding programme can be resuscitated so that learners get at least a meal per day at school,” he said.
The feeding initiative is one of the strategies Government is initiating to enhance education for all, making sure no pupil misses class due to hunger.
At Chamabondo, the school was using its in-house bio digester recycling project run by learners to provide energy for cooking meals for its feeding programme.
Responding to the concerns, Minister Ndlovu said Government suspended the programme to bring sanity but it is bringing it back.
“As for the schools feeding programme, we had a challenge with procurement, that’s why we haven’t started giving maize. People were charging too much and the Ministry of Finance said we can’t charge using black market rates. Now that we are coming back to normal schools will resume feeding programmes,” she said.
In some communities the private sector chipped in to help Government with school feeding.
During the Covid-19 period, the private sector in Victoria Falls extended the programme to all members of the community including school pupils and school leavers as well as other deserving families.
At some point more than 1 000 meals were served each day by the Victoria Falls taskforce.
Article Source: The Chronicle