16 February 2017

Uganda: Schools Fail to Implement Govt Feeding Policy

Photo: Daily Monitor
Pupils wait for their share of lunch at a village primary school recently.

Kibaale/Kagadi — Pupils in rural government primary schools in Kibaale and Kagadi are starving at school because of failure of parents and school managers to implement the government feeding policy.

In October 31, 2016, a memo signed by then permanent secretary, Dr Rose Nassali Lukwago, the Education ministry expressed concern over poor performance and increasing number of pupils dropping out of schools due to lack of midday meals at schools, among other factors.

"It has therefore been decided by government that all stakeholders, most especially the parents be reminded of their cardinal role to ensure that learners are fed at least a meal at school," the memo reads part.

However, the policy is not being implemented in most of the schools which Daily Monitor visited last week in Kibaale, Kakumiro and Kagadi districts.

Parents have three options of providing meals for their children at school under the policy: paying money to the school administration to buy food for pupils, packing food for their children or directly providing food items such as maize and beans to the school administration.

However, several head teachers Daily Monitor talked to called for government funding to implement the policy, saying parents are not fulfilling their obligation.

The deputy head teacher of Mituju Primary School in Nyamarwa Sub-County, Kibaale District, said government should sensitise parents that it is their duty to feed their children at school.

Mr Godfrey Sengoba, the head teacher of Nyamarwa Primary School, said: "When we told parents to pay some money for buying food, they objected to the proposal thinking that teachers were going to divert the funds. When we gave them the alternative of bringing 25kgs of maize and 8kgs of beans for each pupil, they also refused arguing that the items were too much for them. What do you want us to do?"

The head teacher of Kanyawawa Primary School in Kakumiro District, Mr Gerald Kyamuhangire, said: "Government schools will continue to perform poorly because of negative attitude towards government policies by parents."

The policy states that districts shall pass by-laws providing suitable penalties to parents who default in contributing to school feeding. Unfortunately, none of the three districts has any ordinance to that effect.

A section of councillors interviewed expressed positivity to enact an ordinance on school feeding policy. However they fear that the ordinance will not work where there is no will from parents and other stakeholders.

However, parents Daily Monitor talked to said they are too poor to pay for meals for their children in schools.

Mr Matia Nsereko, a father of seven, said: "We are under financial pressure to support children at school. We are not opposed to feeding children at school."

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