AT least 123 primary and secondary schools in Muleba District in Kagera Region are providing school meals to pupils and students, contributing to their good performance in classes, it has been disclosed.
Ms Adeline Francis, a Co-ordinator of studies, explained that the programme had yielded good results, adding that students who got meals performed better than those who didn’t.
“A meal at school keeps students in school, allows them to enjoy the lunch break, provides them with the energy to participate in learning in the afternoon lessons and most importantly, it helps with their physical and cranial development, she said.
Elaborating, she said school feeding policies were a critical component of an effective education system, given that children’s health and nutrition impact their school attendance, ability to learn and overall development.
“There is a poor understanding of nutrition in the communities. So many of the young people suffer from stunted growth caused by a poor diet. More efforts were needed to educate the community on the importance of a lunch time meal for students at the school. If children have to go home for a meal, they may never return, if they live a long way away there may not be time, so they don’t go home, or if they do and do return they may be late (and punished for it) or exhausted. Teachers often say that students sleep in the afternoon classes because they lack energy,” she said.
According to Ms Francis, the remaining 118 primary and secondary schools were not providing meals to students, appealing to parents to understand the importance of such meals, adding that school feeding is included in the Poverty Strategic Reduction Plan (PRSP).
However, she explained that the main problem was the absence of a school feeding management committee that involves parents, teachers and the local community in the management and implementation of the school feeding programme.