Free breakfast for registered primary, secondary students as from September 5 |02 September 2022
● Free lunch for registered primary students only
As from Monday September 5, students from primary and secondary public schools will receive free breakfast whereas free lunch will be for primary students only.
However, only students who have registered for the programme will benefit.
It was the Minister for Education, Dr Justin Valentin, who confirmed the implementation of the programme as announced previously by government as a measure to alleviate the financial stress on parents.
Minister Valentin was accompanied by principal secretary for educational services Merna Eulentin and director for health, safety and risk management Regina Prosper.
He explained that “when this measure was announced, within the Ministry of Education we had to mobilise our teams, partners as well as parents to make sure that the wish of the government becomes a reality”.
Minister Valentin said this is a programme that government wants for all children in public schools.
“As we were nearing the holidays, many parents did not have the chance to register their children. Many people thought that all children will receive breakfast and lunch free. But we cannot do that as this is not sustainable. It is important for parents to register their children. It does not mean that if you have not registered now, you will not be eligible for breakfast. Registration remains open anytime during the year,” Minister Valentin explained.
But if a student who has registered on the programme does not participate actively, the school will have to take a decision so that breakfast and lunch don’t go to waste.
Minister Valentin also asked staff of all schools to share their experience with other teachers from other schools in order to learn and offer the best possible deal to the students.
“Ideally it is the wish of government to provide breakfast to all children and we want to break the negative connection with state-financed meals. The new culture we want to promote is to share breakfast together and grow together,” stated Minister Valentin.
As for PS Eulentin, she explained that as soon as this measure was announced, the minister set up a team to work on the modalities and communication has been done through different platforms with head teachers to finalise their teams.
“All schools are ready and they took it positively. The Ministry of Education, through this project, will try to promote the spirit of friendship among the children as many do not enjoy a conducive environment. We also want to ensure that children have something to eat in the morning before school starts and we want this ‘free breakfast’ at schools to become a community activity,” explained PS Eulentin.
How will the project be implemented in schools?
On her part, Ms Prosper explained that the working group within the Ministry of Education included people from different sections.
“First, we started compiling the number of students who were already on dedicated funds and how many children were taking the ‘goute’ offered by Caritas. This was followed by a series of negotiations with different agencies – tuck shops, nutritionists, Ministry of Health, Seychelles Licensing Authority ‒ and we also designed a form for parents to register each child for breakfast and lunch. We also met with Caritas to see how they were running their breakfast programme so that we could devise the most effective way to proceed,” said Ms Prosper.
The ministry had to also survey how many cutleries were needed by each school and a system was put in place to coordinate all donations. All parents have to register their child using the forms with specific details on their health and safety.
The menu will vary and has been prepared in collaboration with nutritionists and will include fruits, tea, Ovaltine, oat etc.
For one month, all schools will be on some kind of a pilot basis and they will learn from the experience. Some tuck shops are offering their services whereas others have not ventured into the project yet.
To make the project a success, schools are asking for help from parents and volunteers. All schools will decide how to manage the programme and funds will be credited to the school dedicated funds by government.
Chanel Soomery, director of Pointe Larue secondary, noted that this process is quite slow as it was the school holidays.
“We could not properly market the ‘free breakfast’ project to parents and we are receiving some forms already. The school has already filled in the forms for students who are on dedicated funds and yesterday (Wednesday) and today (Thursday) we had open days at the school and it’s only after we have gathered all the details that we would know how many students will be taking part in the project. On September 5 we will be ready to welcome the students with ‘free breakfast’,” said Mr Soomery.
Already 150 children out of 495 have registered for the free breakfast and free lunch at the Anse Etoile primary school and the tuck shop operator is also partnering on the programme.
Jacqueline Adolphe, director of Anse Etoile primary, added that since last year, the school started a breakfast programme with Caritas.
“The deputy for support at our school put together a team of teachers, parents and volunteers to implement the programme. We saw the benefits it brought to the school. Before some children were absent or were even late to school but since we started the free breakfast, there is a keen interest from them,” said Ms Adolphe.
Meanwhile, students who were receiving their ‘goute’ at 10am will keep receiving them until further notice.
Minister Valentin shared that they want to review the diet at school and they will still have break time at 10am but not necessarily for students to eat.
“It is not a disgrace to eat meals offered at schools. It does not mean that free meals are inferior. This helps to remove a big stress on the parents so that they can help the students in other ways.
The following associations and organisations – farmers’ association, bakeries, Caritas, Seychelles Trading Company (STC), Red Cross Society of Seychelles ‒ as well as some parents are helping out with the implementation of the project.