The Malawi government in association with World Food Programme (WFP) have launched a national school feeding programme to provide free food to pupils on their lunch breaks.
Senior Public Information Assistant for WFP in Malawi, Joyce Mkandawire said that the project has finally been launched at a national level after a successful pilot projects in several districts, which indicated that more Malawian children were enrolled at the schools as a result of the food provision during lunch breaks.
Mkandawire said that the number of pupils supported by the project is expected to reach 635, 000 from the earlier figure of 442, 000. The programme is mostly focusing on districts that have been found to be food insecure by a joint study between the Malawi government and WFP.
The programme promises to be a crucial step towards uplifting the educational standards among the poor majority of Malawi children. According to Unicef report,
"Many Malawi children go hungry, are in poor health and have not reached the necessary development milestones by the time they are six, the official age of school entry."
UNICEF figures also shows that it takes an average of 14 years for a child to complete the eight-year primary school system, as most most of the children repeat grades as a result of absenteeism among other problems.
Despite the abolition of school fees, which came with the dawn of democracy in 1994, statistics show that over 10 per cent of the eligible children do not attend school. enrollment rates are high at grade one and two for both boys and girls but completion rates for primary school is very decimal, at 26 percent on average.