Blantyre — Government through the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology is encouraging primary schools to embark on home-grown school feeding as one way of expanding the school feeding programme which was introduced by World Food Programme (WFP).
In an interview with Malawi News Agency (MANA) on Friday, Ministry of Education spokesperson, Lindiwe Chide said they are using different models, one of which was to engage communities in growing crops for school feeding initiative.
"We would like parents to start growing maize and soya beans as funding from the WFP alone is not adequate and cannot cater for all schools across the country.
"This will help us to have enough food for the primary schools and in turn, improve retention rate," said Chide.
She observed that the country has benefitted a lot from the School Feeding Programme, noting that absenteeism has been reduced and learners' participation has increased as the porridge assist them to be alert in class.
In a separate interview, Civil Society Education Coalition Executive Director, Benedicto Kondowe said the development was good and that it would fill existing gaps in the education sector, especially where school feeding project is yet to reach.
"Involving communities in food production will not only benefit the learners, but will also bring a sense of ownership to the communities and strengthen coordination between school management committee and Parents/ Teachers association.
"We don't have to depend on government and non-governmental organizations for everything, yet we can be resourceful on our own," said Kondowe.
Kondowe, however, asked government to take the initiative seriously as many primary schools are not benefitting from the School Feeding Programme such that the new plan would go a long way in scaling up the intervention.
Currently, about 2, 850 primary schools are benefiting from WFP-funded programme, representing 47 per cent of all primary schools in the country. This means 2, 158, 428 learners have been reached.
Selection of schools for the programme is guided by the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee which indicates areas which are likely to be affected by hunger.
WFP has been providing daily meals since 1999 to reduce short-term hunger, improve attention span in class and eventually achieve universal primary education.