Parents should give children enough food to eat to boost performance in school, Mathias Harebamungu, the state minister for primary and secondary education, has said.
Harebamungu made the call, last week, while launching the school feeding programme in the City of Kigali at GS Camp Kanombe, in Kicukiro District.
"We cannot expect our children to perform well if they don't feed well. Our 12-Year Basic Education (12YBE) performance is actually good, and with this programme, they will perform miracles," Harebamungu said.
The feeding programme, aimed at improving quality of education, is in line with recommendations of the National Leadership Retreat earlier this year.
Under the policy, boarding schools are supposed to serve nutritious meals to students.
It also calls upon parents with students in day schools offering 12YBE to devise means to feed their children.
Currently, 12YBE students stay at school from 7am to 2.30pm without lunch.
After class, many walk for an hour or more to their homes on empty stomach.
Studying in the afternoon without having eaten lunch is challenging to many students.
Florence Mushimiyimana, a Senior Five student at Camp Kanombe, welcomed the idea of school feeding programme.
"I cannot concentrate when I am hungry," she said.
Mushimiyimana's school, which hosted the launch of the feeding programme for the City of Kigali, had prepared rice and beans mixed with vegetables for lunch.
Some other days they eat beans with posho.
Students in secondary schools are supposed to have lunch at school. For primary schools, the system provides for two shifts where pupils leave at noon and are expected to have lunch at home.
xWhile Camp Kanombe has 1,177 students in secondary, only 400 students are entitled to a meal while at school.
"We can't run the programme ourselves with a meagre budget; we involved parents and only 400 have contributed since we started," said Jacqueline Umurerwa, the school principal.
Every parent contributes Rwf10,000 for feeding per term.
"We will keep sensitising the rest of the parents to pay the money because they cannot be indifferent to their children's feeding," Umurerwa said.
Paul Jules Ndamage, the Kicukiro mayor, said the district will support the programme.
Besides Kicukiro, so far four districts countrywide have started the school feeding programme. They include Kamonyi, Rusizi, Nyagatare and Gisagara.
All the districts have up to June 30 to launch the feeding programme.