Africa-Press – Eswatini. Following the rationing of food in schools, parents of Edlozini Primary School pupils have been asked to contribute maize to the school feeding scheme.

If the parents fail to contribute to the school’s feeding scheme, they were told that their children would learn on empty stomachs. This comes after the head teacher of the school requested each pupil to contribute maize in 20-litre containers as the school had run out of food. Some parents stated that they were confused after the head teacher of the school asked that each child should contribute that amount of maize. The parents argued that government had a policy to supply schools with food and funding for the feeding programme known as Zondle.


The parents stated that this was the second year that the school had requested that they should contribute maize, which they were totally against. The Ministry of Education and Training delivered food under the schools feeding programme when schools opened this year, but the budget has been exhausted. The government sets aside E49 million budget allocation annually towards the schools feeding programme. Of note, is that the budget has not been increased, despite the inflated food prices. When this reporter visited the school on Thursday, the pupils were found eating thin porridge. The kitchen storeroom was left with only two 20-litre of maize, which was contributed by some of the learners. The Head teacher, Khanyisile Dlamini, stated that the situation was dire. Dlamini said contributions coming from the pupils were low. The school head said very few pupils were making contributions, adding that at times they had to provide only thin porridge.

According to Dlamini, the suggestion to make contributions by the parents was raised during a recent meeting with the parents. “We do not force parents to make the contributions. It is only those who are willing who do so.” Dlamini stated that usually, when some parents made the contributions, the administration stopped soliciting for more, until what was available was depleted. It is after this that they request those who did not contribute to do so. The head teacher said parents contributed once a year to supplement the food provided by government when it was finished. She stated that it was the parents who suggested that each learner should contribute maize, to save the situation. Dlamini said they had previously experienced a chaotic situation, whereby learners had to bring their own lunch boxes. Such resulted in other learners from disadvantaged backgrounds being exposed to hunger.

The head teacher stated that they had to immediately stop this arrangement as there was theft of lunch boxes and things spiralled out of control. Dlamini said the school provided one meal a day for the pupils, which was a 20-litre mealie-meal, rice or beans on a daily basis. “The ministry communicated that the food would be rationed due to the tight budget in comparison with the inflated food prices,” Dlamini said. In their case, Dlamini said the food was reduced from nine bags of rice, maize and beans to only four. She said their enrolment had slightly declined from the previous 300. She added that the Ministry of Education and Training delivered food, including maize (4x50kg), rice (4x50kg) and beans (4×50 kg). However, all of that was exhausted by last month. The head teacher stated that food lasted them until mid last month.

Dlamini said during a parents meeting three weeks ago, the parents suggested that they should contribute the maize. The head teacher stated that besides the beans, they provided vegetables from the school garden. She said most of the time, the learners were provided with either rice and beans or pap and beans. “We are still growing the vegetable garden and for now we are providing the bean stew only.” She said they used some money from the school coffers to purchase seedlings for the vegetables in order to supplement their diet. Since the arrangement with parents, Dlamini said they had been providing the learners with food and no day passed without them having something to eat. Under Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Training Nanikie Mnisi said they were aware that food under the feeding programme was no longer enough, due to increased food prices. Mnisi said the food the ministry provided currently was not as much as what was previously provided to schools. She said this was due to the ever-increasing food prices. The under secretary stated that the ministry welcomed the assistance extended by the parents and donors to assist pupils with something to eat.


Mnisi stated that when delivering the food to schools, they were guided by the enrolment rate and available budget, adding that if the enrolment was low, so would be the food. She acknowledged that the food was reduced by almost half, compared to what the schools previously received. Mnisi encouraged head teachers to visit regional education offices and engage with the food nutritionists. “Parents should not be forced to make contributions but it should be a willing-giver, willing-receiver situation.” Mnisi said head teachers should not demand the contributions, adding that if it was the case at Edlozini, the ministry sincerely apologised to the parents and community.

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