Africa-Press – Lesotho. ABOUT 15 primary schools in the Metolong area that provide meals to students under the school feeding programme could have averted a major crisis after they received their supplies last week.
The schools had battled to receive enough food supplies to keep the programme running since May last year. As a result some students had skipped classes.
When the schools opened in January this year, the situation had hardly improved. For some children the meals they get under the programme is probably the only decent meal they would have in a day.
Without the school meals, it became extremely difficult for some students to concentrate in class, according to teachers interviewed by thepost. The Principal of Metolong Primary School, Molefi Nkhetše, however expressed fears about the lack of consistency in delivering supplies.
“Our food consignment only arrived last week so that the children could have something to fill their tummies,” he said.
“We have been brought a lot of food that closes the gap from last year but this cannot erase the fact that we spent some months without food to feed our children.
“My fear is that this year’s food will still not arrive in time and we are going to struggle again as the year goes by,” Nkhetše said.
He said Ruele, a company given the task of supplying food to schools, is almost always delaying. “They have never worked smoothly because they always delay delivering food,” Nkhetše said.
Nkhetše said the food takes almost a month to be delivered in their area. He said the situation at the school is heart-wrenching when they run out of supplies.
“The food is not going to last for the coming three months. The (quantities) are small,” he said.
Nkhetše said they were given food for November, December and January. And they were told that more food is coming. To their surprise, they have been told that the food delivered now is for last year.
“Many of our students depend on this food as some of them take care of themselves without parents at home,” he said.
He said his school has been experiencing high levels of theft that they could not resolve. He said most of the reports that came through to his office were of students stealing from each other.
Nkhetše said the thefts were a direct result of hunger. He said they were dismissing students early so that they could go home and eat peaches. The Principal of Toloane Primary School, ’Mahlompho Lethoana, said they are facing a similar problem of theft among students due to hunger.
Thabo Ntsane from Ruele, a company responsible for feeding the students, said the delays in supplying food to schools was caused by the government which did not pay them on time.
“The government is to blame as it failed to pay us on time,” Ntsane said.
“The government only paid us for the food and we were able to deliver food to schools last week,” he said.
“The government paid in instalments and we had to deliver meals in (segments) at different schools.
” The spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, Molikuoa ’Mota, said he will provide a full response to the issues next week.
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