By Javier Silas Omagor
MBALE. The First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports Janet Kataaha Museveni has told parents and politicians in Bugisu region to embrace the role of providing school meals for their children.
The First Lady was on Tuesday evening speaking during the radio talk show in Mbale town hosted by Step Broadcasting Cooperation-SBC Media Centre, the home to Open Gate and Step FM/TV.
The radio talk show was part of the First Lady’s School Feeding and Nutrition Campaign through which her Ministry is mobilizing and encouraging parents to ensure that their school- going children have meals while at school in order to ensure quality education across the country.
Highlighting the purpose of her radio talk show, Mrs. Museveni said; “This campaign is supposed to help me as the Minister of Education and Sports and my entire team in this Ministry to improve on the education performance. School feeding makes a difference in the lives of our learners.”
Responding to a question asked by the program moderator, Ronnie Wabomba on why government should not provide meals for school children, the Minister said it is the responsibility of parents to know that their children are cared for.
“As government, we know that parents have the responsibility to care for their children till they are adults; food, a home shelter, clothing and health care when they are sick should be provided by parents. These are basic requirements which no parent needs to be reminded of and this is not just for school time alone but for life,” she said.
She assured listeners that government programs such as Universal Primary Education (UPE) and Universal Secondary Education (USE) were introduced to ensure access to education, but both government and parents have different roles to play. Mrs. Museveni explained that whereas government provides free education to children whose parents cannot afford expensive schools, parents also have a role of providing lunch for the learners.
The concerned Janet Museveni stated; “UPE, USE do not entail feeding. Government has a role and a parent also has a role to play and that is providing meals for learners. Some people think that if they neglect feeding children for so long, government could pick it up but government is not ready to pick it up because education of the children is a shared responsibility between government and parents.”
Asked on what penalties would be considered against those parents who will intend to ignore the school feeding call, Mrs. Museveni retaliated that the Education Act 2005 gives the Ministry provision to use force against such parents but they are not going to rush to use it.
“The reason I started this campaign is to have a dialogue with members of public and remind them of their role in education, I hope our people don’t push us to go there (To use force to compel them to provide meals for their children),” Mrs. Museveni explained saying that compelling parents feed their own children by force shows that there is a major problem in our community.
The First lady also cautioned politicians against politicizing the School Feeding and Nutrition Campaign.
She said; “It is not ethical for any politician to de-campaign or interfere with the school feeding campaign instead they should embrace it and mobilize our people to play their role for the sake of the quality of life and education.”