Schools Consume 6 000 Tonnes of Food Annually

The Ministry of Education procures and distributes more than 6 000 tonnes of food per year, costing over N$70 million, to feed hundreds of thousands of school learners whose parents and guardians cannot afford to put a meal on the table.

The government launched the school feeding programme as a response to the growing needs of school learners affected by a series of droughts in the early 90s.

Addressing the school feeding programme review meeting recently, Education Minister Dr David Namwandi said the government remains committed to ensuring that Namibian children do not miss out on education because of hunger.

He revealed that to date the programme provides a nutritious mid-morning meal to more than 320 000 primary school learners in rural and peripheral urban areas.

Such an achievement, Namwandi said, is a clear demonstration of the government’s commitment to equalise educational opportunities to disaantaged children and to allow them to learn so that they can be productive members of a future society.

The yearly food procurements benefit more than 1 300 primary schools countrywide.

Moreover, 75 percent of the procured food is locally sourced.

Namwandi said through the programme, jobs have also been created within the school feeding supply chain – from food production to food processing and food transportation.

He said this contributes substantially to the national development goal of job creation.

Before the programme started, Namwandi noted, a lot of children did not have equal access to educational opportunities partly due to limited educational facilities compounded by hunger and long walking distances to school.

In this regard, he said, government made and delivered on a commitment to build additional schools closer to communities so that the walking distances are minimised.

But he lashed out at detractors who claim that the feeding programme is a waste of resources, that it creates dependency and has not proven much value.

“I disagree with this perception because unless you have experienced hunger in your life, walked miles to school without breakfast and attended classes on a empty stomach, you cannot know what it feels like.”

Further, he said, studies have shown that the school feeding programme not only helps to relieve short-term hunger for children who have limited access to sufficient food at home, but also contributes to increased school attendance and concentration in class.

He revealed plans to introduce the feeding programme to early childhood development centres (ECDs).

“Discussions are underway within government to introduce the programme. These efforts are supported by the government within the framework of the Fourth National Development Plan, which highlights the school feeding programme as an important vehicle for addressing food insecurity in our country,” he maintained.

Source : New Era