Kaieteur News – When I went to primary school most of the children in the country were poor. As such, the colonial authorities provided biscuit and milk for students. It was not done every day or even every week nor was it done for everyone at the same time.
The milk had to be made at the schools in large canisters. It was then shared out to the children. The same system operated in both rural and urban schools.
The idea was to offer a nutritious snack to boost children’s attentiveness. It is not clear how well that programme worked but you can safely say that feeding programmes for children today have their origins in the biscuit and milk which were given out to school children in British Guiana.
There is now a raging dispute on Facebook. It all began with the announcement that for the first time Grade 6 students in Regions Two, Three, Four, Five, Six and 10 would receive a meal in school. It was admitted that hinterland pupils are provided with meals as part of the hinterland school feeding programme.
One Government official contended on her Facebook page that under the APNU+AFC, not a single child in Essequibo, Region 10 or the East Bank of Demerara received breakfast.
Some critics of the Government have sought to suggest that under Granger’s 5Bs programme – buses, boats, bicycles, books and breakfast – that children were provided with meals. This is not so. The 5Bs programme did not get around to the books and breakfast components.
However, the impression must not be created that the APNU+AFC did not have a coastal breakfast programme. It was in 2016 that a breakfast programme was launched to provide a nutritious breakfast in nursery schools and grades 1 and 2 of primary schools in the three coastal communities of Regions 3, 4 and Georgetown. This was separate and distinct from the hinterland feeding programme.
In 2016, the APNU+AFC had significantly expanded the hinterland school feeding programme, catering for an additional 7,000 students and increasing the budgeted allocation for school feeding from 1.3 B in 2015 to 1.96 billion in 2016. In 2017, 13 359 students in 119 schools were provided with breakfast, representing 6.91percent of the student population. By 2019, it was reported that more than 20,000 hinterland students were benefitting from the hinterland school’s feeding programme in more than 200 schools.
In the 2022 Budget, the Minister of Finance under the present PPP/C Government indicated that programme will be restructured and expanded to cater for 902 nursery and primary schools in coastal, hinterland and riverine areas. This announcement meant that what was being launched was an almost four-fold expansion of the feeding programme and to the coastal areas.
The Hinterland School-based Community Feeding Programme began under the PPP/C administration in 2007. The programme covered schools in Regions 1, 7 and 9. The World Bank did an evaluation of the programme and found positive outcomes in relation to attendance but only modest outcomes in terms of improvement in academic performance.
These are important findings which suggest that any school feeding intervention should be targeted. Instead, however of making a targeted intervention to benefit those most in need, the PPP/C administration is now expanding the programme to Grade 6 students in coastal regions. This is yet another of the misguided initiatives of the PPP/C.
If the intention is to ensure greater attentiveness in classrooms, then the most vulnerable grouping has to be hinterland students many of whom are forced to travel long distances to get to school. Students in coastal Guyana would seem to be less than a priority and the majority of them either take lunch to school or go home for lunch.
It is being suggested herein that instead of expanding the school’s feeding programme to coastal regions, it should first be improved and expanded to all hinterland nursery and primary schools where the need is the greatest.
There is not the same urgency for a school’s feeding programme on the coastland as there is in the hinterland areas.
The Government therefore should not waste resources at this stage unless it undertakes a proper analysis of where the greatest needs exist for providing breakfast for school children. Anything other than that would result in willful waste.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
Oct 06, 2022…Ramdhani siblings in Mixed Doubles quarter-finals Kaieteur News – It was a good showing for the country’s three-member badminton team at the South American Games in Paraguay. Priyanna...
Oct 06, 2022
Oct 06, 2022
Oct 06, 2022
Oct 06, 2022
Oct 06, 2022
Kaieteur News – I would rate India’s foreign minister as one of the world’s most articulate global figures and... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]