For the second term running children in Swaziland are being sent home from school because there is no food to feed them.
The Swazi Government has once again failed to deliver food, known locally as zondle, to poverty-stricken areas of the kingdom.
The Swazi Observer reported on Wednesday (31 May 2017) that school principals had not been told what was going on. Pupils in schools around the Shiselweni and Lubombo regions which were hit by a severe drought now break classes early or miss school altogether because of the shortage.
The newspaper quoted one school principal in the Shiselweni region, saying, 'Some of the pupils come to school without having eaten anything and they rely on the feeding programme at school for food. They cannot stand the long hours on empty stomachs, hence we cut the days short so they can concentrate and be able to grasp something.'
The principal added, 'The availability of food in schools encourages pupils to come to school. So if there is a shortage they then stay at home.'
She said some of the girls were now dating 'sugar daddies' because they wanted pocket money to keep them going during the day and night.
The Ministry of Education and Training delivers about four 50kgs of rice and six to 10 to 50kgs of mealie-meal, depending on the size of the school and beans in each school to last a month.
The situation has not changed since the start of the February 2017 school term.
At that time Zwelithini Mndzebele, General Secretary of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), blamed government for being slow in paying school fees so principals could not buy supplementary food.
According to the World Food Program about 350,000 Swazi people from a population of 1.3 million need assistance with food following the drought. Chronic malnutrition is a main concern in Swaziland: stunting affects 26 percent of children aged under five years.