EDITORIAL: It is possible to provide students with milk without breaking the bank

At the beginning of the just concluded National Leadership Retreat (Umwiherero) Prime Minister Édouard Ngirente, while giving a recap of the previous one, announced that of the 57 tasks they vowed to perform, 43 were completed successfully.

It is understandable that the first thing on the agenda would be to find out the reasons some resolutions were not implemented.

One of those was the decision to give every child in school at least half a litre of milk every day. But here was the catch; the schools would not charge parents any additional money for the milk.

Of course it is understandable that schools were not happy as they would be bearing the full cost of the milk. With an estimated cost of Rwf 200 per litre, a school of about 1,000 students would need 500 litres every day.

For small rural schools, forking out an estimated Rwf 27 million every year is no mean feat; even the high-end private schools would feel the pinch, the Ministry of Education is unwavering in its decision not to modify the fee structure to plug the milk drain.

Some schools have come up with the novel idea to invest in dairy cows but that is not very sustainable. What is needed is a long-term solution even if it hurts all sides concerned.

It would entail cost-sharing; the government could subsidize a portion of the costs and schools and parents also play their part that would not leave gaping holes in their pockets. But telling schools to pick the tab alone is to start on a wrong footing.


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