THE government is yet to start the schools feeding scheme programme which was supposed to begin when schools opened for the second term on Tuesday. Scores of parents in Matabeleland South and North have this week reportedly kept their children from school fearing they would faint from hunger after walking long distances.Primary and Secondary Education Minister Lazarus Dokora recently announced that the government had secured $200 million which is expected to be channelled towards feeding pupils affected by the El-Nino induced drought. Provincial Education Directors yesterday told The Chronicle the government’s food aid has not been delivered to schools.
Matabeleland North’s PED Boithatelo Mnguni said the province submitted the list of affected schools to head office in Harare but are yet to get a response.
“We’ve submitted the names of the schools from our districts. The list consists of schools in Binga, Tsholotsho and Umguza. I don’t readily have the number of schools affected, but they are many,” said Mnguni.
Primary and Secondary Education permanent secretary Sylvia Utete Masango could not be reached on her mobile phone. Bulawayo’s PED Dan Moyo said schools have started offering food aid, sponsored by non-governmental organisations. “The only food aid in schools is that offered by NGOs,” said Moyo.
Similar sentiments were shared by Matabeleland South’s PED Tumisang Thabela, who said schools in her province are yet to receive the supplementary food. At the end of the first term, schools were recording cases of pupils fainting and dropping out because of hunger.
Matabeleland North is one of the worst affected provinces and in one incident a pupil was rushed to hospital after she collapsed only for nurses to discover that she had not eaten in three days. The United Nations estimated that 6,000 pupils dropped out of school during the first term in Matabeleland North due to hunger.
The Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Professor Paul Mavhima has ordered schools to build store rooms for the storage of food aid. Mavhima said the supplementary food aid was supposed to be distributed first to pupils in the Early Childhood Development classes.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira told our sister paper The Herald on Monday that the number of people in need of food aid in the country had ballooned from about 2.8 million last year to 4 million. chronicle