Mary’s Meals founder Magnus McFarlen-Barrow has expressed satisfaction with the school-feeding programme implemented by his organisation in the country.
He expressed the sentiments on Friday at Jacaranda School for Orphans in Blantyre during his tour of the country to appreciate the progress of the programme in schools.
McFarlen-Barrow’s visit comes at a time his organisation has clocked 20 years of feeding children in schools.
Over the years, the organisation, which started in Malawi in 2002, has expanded to 20 other countries, feeding 2 279 941 children every school day across the globe. In Malawi, the programme reaches out to 1 072 884 children in 24 districts.
McFarlen-Barrow said: “I have been impressed with what I have seen so far because I hear that the school-feeding programme is helping children to stay in school.
“I am happy to see that some children who received porridge in 2002 under the programme are now in college.”
When asked on whether his organisation plans to expand the programme in the country, he said there were no such plans, but the organisation was committed to continue with the programme in the targeted districts.
Jacaranda for Orphans founder Marie da Silva said the porridge motivates children to attend classes and concentrate in their studies.
She said: “This is a good initiative that keeps children in school, but at the same time, enhances the nutrition status of children.
“Without Mary’s Meals, it would be expensive for me to provide meals to primary and secondary school learners.”
The school-feeding programme is one of the Ministry of Education’s policies that seek to reduce dropout and absenteeism, especially among primary school learners in the country.
In a separate interview yesterday, education expert Roy Hauya, who is also former Malawi National Examinations Board executive director, said the school-feeding programme is crucial if the country is to achieve compulsory basic education.
He said: “Research has proved that the school feeding programme has improved enrolment, retention and performance.
“At the same time, it has helped to reduce inequalities among children in that all eat porridge in school.”
Hauya also said the programme is contributing towards improving the nutrition status of children, which is crucial to improving performance.
Currently, only 50 percent of pupils in the country are under the programme, which Hauya said should be addressed quickly to motivate children in the schools not under the programme.
“Government should invest in nutrition both in homes and in schools to make children feel happy to be in school,” he said.