900 students to benefit as breakfast programme is launched in Region 5

Education Minister Priya Manickchand on Wednesday launched a programme which would provide a daily breakfast to all Grade Six students in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice).
Manickchand has said she is happy to be launching ‘Ednutrition’ – breakfast for success in the region, where some 900 Grade Six students from 25 schools would be benefitting. The programme was launched at the Belladrum Primary School.
“When we say all children will get breakfast, that is what we mean. At this point, it is for all children in Grade Six,” the Minister has said. “This morning (Wednesday) we are very glad to be launching ‘Ednutrition’ — breakfast for success in Region Five, (where children) will, for the first time in the history of this country, receive breakfast from the Government as help and assistance, not only to get their schoolwork going, but to put more money in their parents’ pockets,” Manickchand has said.
“This is not the first time Region Five is getting breakfast for some children. Breakfast for Region Five started in 2015, but at that time, seven schools were getting breakfast. Now all the primary schools (Grade Six children) in Region Five will get breakfast regardless of where they are from,” she said.
She pointed out that when the programme was held in 2018, there were three persons supplying the meals for the seven schools. “Right now, 25 people are supplying 25 schools.” This, the Minister has said, resulted in 25 women who did not have jobs prior now having a business opportunity to provide the meals. They were chosen by the individual schools.

Education Minister Priya Manickchand with students of the Belladrum Primary School

“When we started, we had black eye as one of the meals, and like every other house, the kids hated black eye, so we had to change that. We are listening to what the children are saying, so as to be able to improve the programme,” she said.
When asked, children at the launch on Wednesday said their favourites were the sandwiches and cereal.
According to the Education Minister, research around the world has proven that children who benefit from healthy nutrition learn better and perform better in school. Additionally, she said the School Feeding Programme has shown increased attendance and enrollment at schools.
The programme was officially launched nationally in September, with a promise that it would be spread to the coastal Regions: Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), Four (Demerara-Mahaica), Five (Mahaica-Berbice), and Region Ten (Upper Demerara-Berbice).
Children living in the hinterland regions are already benefitting from a separate feeding programme.
“It is not only breakfast we are offering. For the first time, all your Grade Six children right here at Belladrum and everywhere else right across this region have all of the textbooks they need – for free in their individual book bags.
The Education Minister pointed out that some may argue that textbooks were always being issued for free, but she said there were only four textbooks given to each student.
“We have given a package of over seventeen. The way I arrived at what must be in that package, it is what my child was using in a private school. If this is good for the private school children, it is good for every other child in this country. There are some books that you never saw before, and couldn’t even access even if you were willing to save your money to purchase them…,” she explained.
For this year, $267 million is being spent on the breakfast programme for Grade Six pupils. In addition, a monitoring and evaluation officer from the region has been employed to help monitor the breakfast programme so that excellence is always delivered.
To date, 12,401 students are benefitting countrywide from the breakfast programme, while 235 persons are directly employed through the programme. (G4)