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School breakfasts to commence in 2019 with pilot study

21 December 2018, MVT 15:42
Education Minister Dr. Aishath Ali addresses Thursday's press conference. PHOTO: NISHAN ALI/MIHAARU
21 December 2018, MVT 15:42

Minister of Education Dr. Aishath Ali, on Thursday, announced that a pilot study regarding breakfast provision in government schools would commence in the 2019 academic year.

Speaking at a press conference, the minister stated that the 25 schools which are to participate in the pilot study were selected considering the total student population. One school from each atoll was chosen in addition to five schools in the capital city of Male’. The pilot study will cater to 14,720 students.

Dr. Aishath disclosed that the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) had helped to compile 10 different menus.

UNICEF Program Specialist Shahla Ahmed stated that the menus were formulated with input from the Health Protection Agency (HPA), nutritionists and other experts.

The Program Specialist stated that while the menu items were sourced from the food guidelines compiled by UNICEF during the past two years, special consideration was given to childhood nutritional needs and readily available foodstuffs.

Permanent Secretary of Education Mohamed Saeed stated that students would be able to choose from among three menus daily. Breakfast will be provided in classrooms to students attending the morning session before their lessons commence.

Saeed stated that interested catering firms, that are established in the same island as the schools they will supply to, can apply to participate in the program after an announcement by the ministry.

Special care will be given to the sanitation and hygiene of kitchen staff, place of preparation, utensils and the food prepared.

Parental consent will be attained before students are provided school breakfasts. In addition, the school will also inquire about any allergies or important dietary requirements.

The Ministry of Education will address any problems identified by the pilot study before the policy is launched in full scale in 212 schools. The government plans to establish cafeterias in these schools as well.

Breakfast provision in government schools is an electoral pledge of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. The 2019 state budget allocated MVR 50 million to fulfil the vow.