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Feeding scheme extends to secondary schools

by Staff reporter
04 Mar 2020 at 07:54hrs | Views
GOVERNMENT is set to extend the schools feeding scheme to secondary schools in line with the country's education policy to improve school attendance and completion rates.

The feeding scheme is meant to keep learners in class while improving nutrition.

Government introduced the feeding scheme in 2016 starting with infants but it was later extended up to Grade Seven.

The introduction of the schools feeding programme is in line with the African Union resolution to promote inclusive education by providing meals at school.  

During the 26th AU Summit in January 2016, the Heads of States decided to adopt homegrown school feeding programmes as a continental strategy to enhance retention and performance of children in schools and to boost income-generation and entrepreneurship in local communities.

The decision saw March 1 being declared "Africa Day for School Feeding". Yesterday, Bulawayo province commemorated four years since Government launched the feeding scheme.  

During the commemorations, held at Josiah Chinamano Primary School in Emakhandeni suburb, there were performances by pupils showing the effects of attending lessons while hungry that include sleeping in class and failure to concentrate.

Addressing parents, teachers and pupils during the event, Bulawayo acting provincial education director Mrs Ollicah Kaira said modalities were underway to introduce the schools feeding programme up to high school.

"The Ministry (of Primary and Secondary Education) is now working towards the third phase (of schools feeding) where it will be introduced in the secondary school level. Why the schools feeding programme? Is it really necessary? One would ask. The home-grown schools feeding programme has been adopted by the Government of Zimbabwe as a strategy to ensure optimal enrolment, improve school attendance, retention and completion rates. It is envisaged that it will enhance learning outcomes and achieve positive nutrition and health outcomes for all," said Mrs Kaira.

She said the programme is anchored on home-grown solutions meaning schools have to depend on what they can easily produce or provide at cheaper costs.  

The Government supports the initiative through providing grain and parents chip in with the relish.

Parents and guardians cook for the children ensuring the successful implementation of the programme. At Josiah Chinamano Primary School children are fed porridge, amahewu, as well as isitshwala with beans, vegetables or meat. Mrs Kaira said communities should take ownership of the feeding programme as it can also benefit them.

"It is anticipated that communities will assume ownership of the programme. We appreciate the community gardens that have taken root in almost all the suburbs in the city and we see these as potential sources of relish. There are small scale farmers situated on the outskirts of Bulawayo who could be a source of maize meal and vegetables too," said Mrs Mrs Kaira.

"This, therefore, promotes the socio-economic growth which is part of the Government thrust towards a middle-income economy by 2030. Schools have gardens and we have seen them feeding their learners with beans, vegetables, butternut to name but a few from the gardens.  

"Some have even established poultry and rabbit keeping projects."

Mrs Kaira warned school authorities against using pupils for labour in their nutritional gardens saying learners should only go there when conducting practical lessons for Agriculture.

She urged parents and guardians to play a leading role in protecting schools' infrastructure and theft as some of it is being stolen by community members.

Josiah Chinamano Primary School's head Ms Jean Sibanda said some thieves were stealing vegetables they were growing.

Ms Sibanda said the school was also selling some of its surplus produce to the nearby community.  She said the school is planning to introduce a poultry project to boost children's nutrition.

The Chronicle news crew observed learners being provided with isitshwala and beans. Zimbabwe Teachers' Association (Zimta) chief executive officer, Dr Sifiso Ndlovu said the feeding programme was a noble initiative that should be supported.  He said Government, parents and guardians should work hand in hand to ensure that the programme does not suffer sustainability challenges as a result of donor dependency.

"For starters, the feeding scheme ensures that children are in schools. A child would not be motivated to go to school on empty stomachs especially those in rural areas who are always hard hit by drought.  With school feeding programme their attendance increases and that also improves their concentration levels. So, Government should ensure there is sustainability in the programme," he said.

Dr Ndlovu said Government should also ensure that the food is secured in schools as cases have been reported that some school staff were looting the foods to feed their families. 

Source - chronicle