OUTAPI – Government’s school feeding programme, which benefits over 460 000 children, has been impacting school attendance, according to officials. Omusati education director Benny Eiseb said the halting of school feeding programmes discourages learners from attending classes.
He said his office has noticed numerous primary school learners who are always absent from school whenever the feeding stops.
In an interview with New Era on Tuesday, Eiseb described the importance of the feeding programme as one of the significant initiatives that encourage learners to attend school.
“It is, therefore, imperative that the ministry remains committed to sustaining this feeding programme, especially to schools with low grades,” he said.
Eiseb said his office will constantly ensure that schools in the region have received bags of maize meal because it was observed that this is the best motivation to keep a child in school.
Furthermore, he said, late delivery of the maize meal is always a challenge.
Close to 248 schools with 76 393 learners in Omusati are benefiting from this programme, where learners eat porridge every day at school.
Also speaking on the importance of the school feeding programme, executive director of the ministry of education Sanet Steenkamp said the initiative will remain a priority for the ministry.
She also emphasised the importance of the school feeding programme as one of the helpful schemes that constantly benefits many learners, especially those at primary levels.
Steenkamp explained the ministry has indicated good concentration in classes among learners and the confidence to attend classes at all times.
“When learners eat wheat porridge, they gain the energy to concentrate, and it also prevents them from sleeping in classes,” she added.
She added that 461 839 learners of the primary phases countrywide are currently benefiting from this feeding scheme, while 451 000 have benefitted in 2021.
Therefore, she said, the ministry will always carry out its duty to ensure all schools with lower grades are catered with sufficient bags of maize meal.
“Our ministry is busy setting up 29 homegrown feeding programmes in seven regions, where vulnerable children and orphans will be taken care of,” she said.
Steenkamp urged schools to continue making gardens for the learners to be able to produce their additional food for themselves.