For primary public school children, every day in school means a proper meal. For some, it may be the only decent or even the only meal of the day. Thus the strike by the public workers, now in its 25th day, that includes thousands of public school teachers has meant school closings. And with the closings, no meals for the children.
According to the last report of the Ministry of Public Education (MEP) to Tuesday, October 2, of the 1,978 of 4,571 the public schools reporting, 1,798 were reported closed.
That figure means some 79,000 public school children are not in school.
According to the MEP report, the greatest impact is in the province of Guanacaste and the northern zone, where cantons such as Cañas and Ciudad Quesada report the highest numbers of school lunchrooms without service.
For example, in Cañas 99 school lunchrooms were reported closed and in San Carlos 65, while in San José there were 24 schools without meal service. In the educational areas Grande de Térraba in Buenos Aires of Puntarenas and Coto (which covers Corredores and Golfito), 13 were closed.
The figures worry MEP authorities since many of the lunchrooms not open are located in areas of extreme poverty.
Leonardo Sanchez, in charge of equity programs at the MEP, said the Ministry invests some ¢450 million colones per day in school food services.
Since the strike began on September 10 it estimated that daily losses for suspending these services could amount to ¢200 million per day due to wasted food, since in many cases school had placed orders before the strike began.
The MEP had announced that it would send instructions to the Education Boards so that they could take the necessary actions to guarantee at least basic meal for the children during the strike, however, La Nacion confirms that as of Tuesday last the order had not been carried out.