26 February 2013

Rwanda: Govt Plans Meals for Schools Countrywide

The Ministry of Education, plans to roll out a school feeding programme in all schools as an effective means to channel vital nourishment to children, particularly from poor families.

Officials disclosed this yesterday as several partners met to discuss how effectively a home grown school feeding programme can be implemented.

The meeting was organised by the government with support of the government of Brazil through the World Food Programme (WFP) centre of excellence against hunger.

The centre is based in Brazil.

The Director-General of Education Planning in the Ministry of Education, Dr Erasme Rwanamiza, said Rwandan officials have already visited Brazil where a similar programme has been successful.

"This meeting aims at helping Rwanda formulate a way forward for a nationally owned and home-grown school feeding programme," he said.

Rwanamiza said the programme, to be rolled out countrywide after consultations, will replace the normal feeding systems such as one milk-pint per child by the Ministry of Agriculture, and the meals normally offered by WFP and the Education Ministry in selected schools.

How it is planned

The school feeding will be applied beginning with nursery and primary school children.

It will start soon after the feasibility study in 12 districts of Northern and Western provinces before spreading the programme countrywide.

He said school feeding will reduce school dropouts and increase enrolment. Funds for the programme will come from government and its partner organisations such as the World Food Programme.

"School feeding is very expensive but the problem is not the cost, it is how this is perceived, the government is committed and we hope if we present this to the partners they will be willing to support us," he said

The programme will target between 2 million and 3 million children countrywide.

Parents were also encouraged to support by providing some foods such as vegetables, fruits and eggs and any support to play a role in school feeding as the government will be giving its contribution according to Rwanamiza.

Daniel Balaban, the director of the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger in Brazil, said it is important and possible in Rwanda, adding that children will need healthy and nutrient-rich foods.

School feeding has been under practice in Brazil for the last 57 years.

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