In recent days, a number of erroneous statements have been made in the media about the Government’s School Feeding Programme and efforts by a particular group to distribute lunches to students in various schools. In that regard, the Ministry of Education wishes to bring clarity to the matter.
The following details the false statements, followed by factual accounts:
- The MOE Suspended its School Feeding Programme:
The Facts: The Ministry of Education affirms that there is absolutely no truth in this statement. All structures that were in place prior to the early closure of schools, are still present. By way of evidence, the ministry delivered supplies of fish, chicken and other goods as per usual. The ministry continues to pay all cooks to provide services to schools. Furthermore, the ministry in 2019 spent $3.1 million on its School Feeding Programme, and has budgeted to spend the same in 2020.
- The ministry hired new cooks:
The Facts: While this statement is false, it serves to nullify the earlier false statement that the Ministry of Education suspended the School Feeding Programme. The release of such contradictory statements points to a need for greater diligence on the part of everyone concerned.
- The ministry stopped an initiative where members of a political organisation were distributing food to needy students.
The Facts: While this organisation did not follow the established protocol through which organisations are to engage schools, the ministry wishes to state categorically, that NO instruction was given to any principal to stop the programme. It is important to note that under successive governments, the protocol for engaging schools has remained the same.
It must also be noted that the Ministry of Education has a responsibility to guide principals to follow the protocols, policies and guidelines for the delivery of all services to students. As it relates to our Nutrition Policy, which was passed by Cabinet, we have been moving aggressively to enforce all aspects, including the banning of sodas and highly processed snacks.
To ensure higher standards and safety of students at all times, we wish to encourage persons who wish to support students with meals to do so through financial support, which can be deposited in the school feeding account for the particular school. Additionally, organisations and individuals may want to sponsor a child at a cost that is subsidised by the government, and ranges from $1 per day for the younger children, to $3 per day for Secondary School students. The ministry is mindful that it will have to shoulder full responsibility if any child falls ill as a result of eating something which is provided to students by authorisation, during school hours.
In keeping with the Covid-19 protocols, the ministry is also extremely cautious about unauthorised persons visiting schools at this time. It is for this reason that we have also asked parents to avoid visiting schools, unless it is absolutely necessary.
The Ministry of Education wishes to thank members of the business community, all organisations and individuals for their continued partnership with the Ministry of Education, as we work whilst embracing the vision that ‘every child can succeed.’
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