Education Minister, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites has reiterated the call for parents to place greater emphasis on the nutritional needs of their children.
Speaking at the Kiwanis Club of Eastern St. Andrew’s family night activities held at the Altamont Court hotel in New Kingston on Tuesday (November 13), Mr. Thwaites said data shows that over 30 per cent of all Jamaican children attend school without breakfast in the mornings.
He pointed out that nutrition is an essential part of the learning process, and that poor nutrition often affects the learning ability of many youngsters. “Nutrition is very important to successful education… so when the results don’t come out (how you would like them), you can’t beat the (child) and call them dunce,” he stated.
Mr. Thwaites is therefore imploring parents to make a greater effort to ensure that their children are fed properly before attending school, noting that this can be done in spite of their socio-economic background.
“Don’t give the child money to go and buy cheese chips and bag juice. That can’t help the child’s brain. You can get up in the mornings and boil a little porridge or make a sandwich,” he advised.
Earlier this year, the Education Minister informed that the government was conducting a review of the national school feeding programme, in an effort to improve the nutrition of students, particularly those at the early childhood level.
He stated that the review of the programme would be a gradual process, the results of which will be announced during the 2013/14 academic year.
Rev. Thwaites pointed out at that time that one of the main concerns was the levels of imported foods that were being fed to students under the school feeding programme in some schools, noting that more local produce should be served.