Harare – President Robert Mugabe’s government says it will in May begin giving a meal a day to schoolchildren in areas worst hit by the drought, the state-controlled Sunday Mail reported.
Cabinet has approved a US$200m National School Feeding Scheme, reports the paper.
Provision of some of the foodstuffs may however turn out to be the responsibility of the schools which will be encouraged to set up food gardens, according to the report.
Children in the first two years of school will be given priority.
“The schools feeding programme will commence in May and it will be for the infants from Grade 0 to 2,” Public Service Minister Prisca Mupfumira told the Sunday Mail. Children begin Grade 0 around the age of 5.
By October last year, 3 000 school pupils in Matabeleland South province had already dropped out of school due to hunger, the newspaper said.
Deputy Education Minister Paul Mavhima said: “Preferably we want two meals per day but we will start with one meal.”
The Chronicle newspaper reported this week that children were dropping out in droves.
It was not immediately clear if the programme would extend to children in non-registered “satellite” schools, which have been set up in rural areas and are often poorly-equipped.
A report in the Standard newspaper on Sunday said that of 17 secondary schools in Bubi district of Matabeleland North province, only eight were registered with the government and got state grants.