School feeding scheme boosts attendance

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FOOD support to students is a strategic investment that can make a difference to the future of all Zimbabwean learners and consequently the contribution they can make to their country.
School feeding has proved to have a positive impact on attendance at school, improved learning outcomes and improved health, gender equity as well as poverty and hunger reduction, among others.
It is against this background that the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is devoted to improving the school feeding programmes in schools.
Speaking at the launch of the Zimbabwe Schools Agriculture Water Programme (ZIMSWAP) recently, Dr Lazarus Dokora said school feeding was an essential tool for the development and growth of children.
“School feeding is an essential tool for the development and growth of children,” said Dr Dokora.
“My Ministry has realised that school feeding has many demonstrable advantages, but it has its greatest impact among learners who receive sufficient nutrition to allow them to concentrate on school tasks while developing into healthy adults.
“If stalked by hunger or unbalanced diet, the impact is negative – poor performance.”
Dr Dokora said ZIMSWAP signifies the launch of sustainable agriculture projects in schools as it provides boreholes in schools which should impact very positively on the teaching and learning process.
Drip irrigation, solar power and providing for a fish pond securing water for a secondary school and a one hectare plot are part of the ZIMSWAP package.
Following this development, 44 secondary schools have so far benefitted from the programme with more schools expected to benefit in the near future.
“As an agro-based economy, we have the potential and capacity to implement viable agriculture programmes in our schools in line with the history of the land reform in our country,” said Dr Dokora.
Agronomists and Agritex officers from the Ministry of Agriculture within the catchment of each school will work collaboratively with the teachers, said Dr Dokora.
The delivery of this programme will target one province at a time, beginning with Manicaland, Mashonaland East with the last being Masvingo Province.
Dr Dokora called upon parents and schools to make their contribution to ensure that children have decent meals every day.
The National School Feeding Programme in Zimbabwe was launched in May last year.
Zimbabwe’s school feeding program is based on the Brazilian Model.
In this model the federal government provides a budget which is decentralised.
Brazil is considered to have an exemplary home-grown school feeding programme.
It has successfully re-arranged public and private institutions in such a way as to empower social actors like consumers, farmers and public authorities at various levels to define their own terms of engagement to improve the quality of school meals.
In 1997, decentralisation saw budgets for school meals transferred from the central Government to municipal governments, enabling local authorities to procure food for public schools.
In 2006, President Lula da Silva started to promote the idea and it was rapidly linked to the concept of ‘food sovereignty’ underpinned by appreciation of local food culture and family-based agriculture.
In 2009, a new law came into effect to fully implement the ‘home-grown’ school feeding programme by obliging every municipality in Brazil to spend at least 30 percent of its allocated budget to procure local produce directly from family farms.
Since then, about half of the more than 5 500 municipalities in Brazil have their own designated school feeding committees, which consist of the municipal and state secretaries of education, town councillors and representatives from local parents and teachers’ associations.
These school feeding committees are now taking the lead in local food procurement and ensuring school menus reflect the voices of local children and their parents.
Menus include locally procured fresh vegetables and fruits.

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