Unsalaried work for the preparation of porridge for primary schools will soon become a thing of the past, as the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture will start paying these volunteers.
Minister of Education, Arts and Culture Katrina Hanse-Himarwa says although it remains a good gesture to volunteer, it becomes problematic when the goodwill of volunteering is abused.
Currently, those who ensure school children have a meal in the morning are either parents, guardians of the children at schools or community members, who offer their services free of charge. Addressing teachers in the Oshana Region on Wednesday, Hanse-Himarwa stressed the importance of paying salaries to these volunteers.
“We are good at abusing people in the name of volunteering; the cooks go with left overs, it is not good. We are going to look into these little things because it is these small things that make life meaningful,” related Hanse-Himarwa. Speaking fondly of the feeding programme, Hanse-Himarwa said her ministry would also focus on improving and strengthening the feeding programme by making it nutritious.
At the moment, learners are fed maize-meal porridge, which the education minister reckons is not sufficient.
According to Hanse-Himarwa, the feeding programme assists in keeping children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds in school and also increases the enrolment numbers and rates. According to the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Alfred Ilukena, the programme now feeds over 300 000 primary school children countrywide compared to 63 000 when the programme was introduced in 1996. The programme was launched as a response to the growing needs of school learners, who were affected by a series of droughts in the 1990s. In the same vein, Hanse-Himarwa called for the decentralisation of the feeding programme to enable leaders in the regions and in the constituencies to take ownership of the programme and ensure its success.