The meal supplement programme introduced in 12 of the 28 schools that are supported by Kansanshi Mining Plc in Solwezi is benefiting 6,000 pupils as the company tackles hunger by providing at least one vitamin, mineral and protein enriched meal per child daily for children who show signs of deficiency.
Speaking recently at the KANEQUIP feeding programme launch at Makole Primary School, head teacher Mary Mulao said that the introduction of porridge had caused a great increase in the school enrollment which now stands at 494.
“As a school we have noted several changes in the behavior of our learners because of porridge and milk. Learners report to school as early as 06:30hrs, which was not so before; the rate of dodging classes has reduced and the learner level of concentration in class has improved,” she said.
Kansanshi Foundation Head of Education, Onward Mandebvu, who gave a brief background on how the feeding programme began, he said that in 2012 Kansanshi Mine decided to formalize its support to education in Solwezi.
“We began that programme by taking a survey of what the situation was in the schools and what the needs of these pupils were. We found that most of the schools were operating without any text books.
“We found that Solwezi town had only about 74 classrooms where more than 200 classrooms were needed to meet the needs of the school children that were enrolled at the time.”
Some schools had only a few text books which were in the hands of the teachers. Pupils had no access to text books.
Kansanshi Corporate Social Responsibility Manager Bruce Lewis said that when the mine started 14 years ago, everybody was excited because it was going to create employment for everybody.
“and as we went along we discovered that was not the case because the skills and the education levels we needed as a Mine were not available here, so we needed to employ people from other provinces to work in the mine,” he said.
Mr Lewis said in 2010-11 the company was building classrooms only to realise that the literacy and numeracy still remained very low. The company decided to provide education and meal supplements.
Solwezi District Commissioner Rosemary Kamalonga said the Government was aware that the relationship between nutrition, health and learning is undeniably strong as nutrition is one of the three major factors that impact a child’s development.
In a vote of thanks Blessings Mwata a pupil at Makole Community School thanked the Mining Company for its support to the pupils.
By Mwansa Mambwe, Times of Zambia