EDITORIAL: Ministry needs to clear the air over school milk

Rwanda has always been adept at punching above its weight and gotten away with it. Most people never stop and question how it triumphs over great odds, but the answer is right there in front of them; good planning, taking calculated risks and taking the plunge when it sees an opportunity.

That is why it has managed to provide the majority of its population with universal health insurance and takes care of the most vulnerable when much richer and more advanced nations are still groping in the dark.

It never fears to try out new ideas and every part of its journey is a learning curve, but it never steps out blindly. That is what – in the eyes of many school heads – the Ministry of Education is doing regarding the school milk programme.

Plans to feed all the estimated three million school children with half a litre of milk a day is more than recommendable since a well-fed child is more open to learning and is attentive.

But regardless of the logistical nightmare, the programme will entail, there is not only one catch but two; 1.5 million litres a day would be needed to go around the children yet available statistics puts total milk production at 2.2 million litres a day which poses quite a challenge.

A more serious issue is that schools must add milk to their menus without parents incurring further costs. One school in the Eastern Province where a litre of milk costs Rwf200, parents are charged Rwf 10,000 for food per term without the milk.

The milk would cost an extra Rwf 9,000 per term per student; that is the dilemma schools are facing, and from the way things stand at the moment, they have reasons to worry over the new milk directive.
 

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