Unions urge Gvt prioritize schools feeding scheme

Roseline Mutare

MASVINGO -As the El Nino induced drought bites, teachers’ unions have called upon the Government to prioritize feeding infants and children in school to fight malnutrition and reduce drop puts due to hunger.

Amalgamated Rural Teachers Unions of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) and the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) have jointly urged the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to ensure that schools receive adequate funding for meal programs, particularly in drought-stricken areas.

The unions said while it is important that the whole nation especially the vulnerable should get priority, children of school going age should be at the forefront of all food distribution programs.

“We cannot afford to have our children learning on empty stomachs, the drought has already affected many households, and it is our responsibility as a nation to ensure that our students are well-fed and able to concentrate in class,” said Thembakuye Moyo, ARTUZ spokesperson.

Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe spokesperson, Thembakuye Moyo.

PTUZ president, Dr Takavafira Zhou, added that everyone is struggling especially the drought affected areas.

“Teachers are already struggling to cope with the effects of drought for their own families, we cannot expect them to effectively teach hungry children. It is a crisis that requires immediate attention,” said Zhou.

The unions are proposing alternative solutions, including partnering local organizations to provide food aid and sustainable gardening projects in schools to promote self-sufficiency.

The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has acknowledged the concerns, promising to engage with stakeholders to find a solution.

In a telephone interview with The Midweek Watch, the director of communications and advocacy in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Taungana Ndoro, said they have put in place measures that include increasing the procurement and distribution of long shelf food items, expanding the National School Feeding Program, and collaborating with local authorities and community organizations to ensure continuous food supply.

“The Ministry is also scaling up and modifying existing school feeding initiatives, including expanding menus, increasing meal frequency and portion sizes, and exploring take-home rations, we are mobilizing additional resources, the Ministry is engaging with international development agencies, NGOs, and the private sector, and exploring innovative approaches like cash-based transfers and voucher systems.

 “Furthermore, we are promoting drought-resistant and climate-smart agriculture practices in school gardens and feeding programs, and investing in renewable energy solutions to increase sustainability,” said Ndoro.

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