Education Ministry launches primary schools breakfast programme
Primary school pupils in coastal regions across the country will now receive a nutritious breakfast every morning at school, compliments of the Ministry of Education breakfast programme, which was launched on Tuesday.
Speaking at the launching of the event at the McKenzie Primary School, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice), Education Minister Priya Manickchand labelled the day as one of joy as she highlighted that many pupils attend school without having a hearty breakfast.
Manickchand noted that difficult circumstances may force parents to not be able to provide breakfast for their children and that it is the government’s duty to help as far as finances would allow.
“The research around the world says that children who are full, whose bellies are full, learn better. We also know that breakfast programmes and feeding programmes make us see more attendance and enrollment at schools,” the Education Minister noted.
For this year, $267 million is being spent on the breakfast programme for Grade Six pupils in Regions Two, Three, Four, Five, Six and 10. Hinterland pupils are already provided with meals as part of the hinterland feeding programme.
“Why Grade Six? Because they are in an exam class,” Manickchand explained.
The regional authority will provide the ministry with information on “good people” who can supply the breakfast for the schools. Manickchand highlighted that if those persons contracted to supply the meals cannot deliver what is required, there will be no delay in replacing them.
“It cannot be anything. It can’t be anything – we’re asking to see and we’ve suggested a menu,” Manickchand said that the meals will be nutritious and of the correct portion.
The menu will vary for each region based on foods that are produced within the region.
“For example, if Leguan has plantains they grow, Leguan will see plantains as one of the meals. If Linden has eggs, Linden might see eggs as one of the meals,” she explained.
Teachers confirmed that many pupils go to school without breakfast, and highlighted that the initiative is a commendable one.
“The students here, I know that they’re happy about it because some of them when you have conversations with them in the morning time when they come to school you know that some of them did not have breakfast,” Sherma Williams said.
Williams, a senior mistress at the McKenzie Primary School expressed that she is “very happy” about the “great initiative” undertaken by the government.
Meanwhile, teacher Nicola, a Grade Six teacher at the school, said the programme will be of benefit to the children, especially those who will be in school early in the morning due to travelling long distances.
“Some children also come without breakfast due to financial circumstances. We know the unemployment rate in Linden is very high so this is a very great programme,” she said.