Boxed juice, cereal for pupils as part of breakfast programme
Primary school pupils will now receive Topco box juices and locally manufactured cereal as part of the Ministry of Education Edutrition: Breakfast for Success programme.
The move is in response to concerns in some quarters about juices being served in plastic bags and pupils receiving black-eye and channa as part of the breakfast programme, Education Minister Priya Manickchand said.
She was at the time speaking at the launching of the programme in Region Two (Pomeroon – Supenaam) at the Taymouth Manor Primary School on the Essequibo Coast on Thursday.
While explaining that channa and black-eye were selected to be served as part of the breakfast programme because of its nutritional properties, Manickchand noted that pupils will not be forced to eat it.
“Corilla is also very healthy and none of us like it, but we have to force ourselves sometimes to eat it, we don’t want to force your children to eat the breakfast so we are changing out the black-eye particularly,” she said.
The cereal which will be served is being produced on the Essequibo Coast by Morning Glory Cereal Inc., popularly known as the Anna Regina Cereal Plant.
“The cereal factory is going to be boosted and reinvigorated to provide not only cereal for you here on the Essequibo Coast, but for the children across Guyana where we are purchasing that,” Manickchand said.
The move will also generate a number of indirect benefits for persons living on the Essequibo Coast, Manickchand explained.
“Not only are 20 persons employed at the factory, but they have to buy rice from people right here on the Essequibo Coast, they have to buy ingredients, they have to buy plastic bags, they have to use other services right here,” Manickchand said.
The breakfast programme was launched to serve primary school pupils in coastal regions as hinterland pupils are already provided with meals as part of the hinterland feeding programme.
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.
Offering brief remarks on Thursday, Coordinator of the programme, Mahendra Phagwah noted that the idea behind the programme goes beyond ensuring the pupils are fed.
“At the end of this programme when we measure it…if one child can come to say to one of us that because of the breakfast programme I did not drop out of school and I wrote my common entrance, then that speaks of the value and of the success of the programme,” he said.
Parents and teachers have lauded the programme, calling it a good initiative.
“The reviews have been good and my child as well as I appreciate it very much. He’s glad that he doesn’t have to wake up very early to have breakfast at home then come to school and he’s been enjoying it,” Kendrea Salisbury, a parent, said.
Meanwhile, Hemawattie Gonsalves, a Grade Six teacher at the Taymouth Manor Primary said that her pupils are on time every day at school to have their breakfast.
“I think it’s a very, very good initiative- a big round of applause for the Honourable Minister of Education,” Gonsalves said.
Since the launch of the programme last month, some 10,700 pupils from 245 primary schools have benefited from programme.
When the programme was launched in Linden on September 6, 2022, Manickchand had noted that the menu will vary for each school 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,” she had said.