While various districts are still struggling to implement the school feeding programme for students in government-funded schools, Gakenke District has 98 per cent of the schools feeding their students.
The programme, that was launched three years ago at schools under the 12-year basic education programme (12YBE), is aimed at, among others, contain the drop-out rate for students.
Gakenke District officials attribute the achievement to the measures taken after realising that there were a number of students from vulnerable families who were left behind by the programme as they couldn’t afford the meal at school.
“After understanding the problem and its negative impact on the quality of education, the district advisory committee endorsed the creation of a fund, which specifically deals with supporting children from venerable families, to access food at school like other children,” Jean de Dieu Sinahamagaye, the director of education in the district told The New Times.
Sinahamagaye explained that the fund involves various partners in the district and that contributions are paid once a year.
“Through the fund, public servants from the cell to the district level and other development partners, including private sector in our district, dedicated themselves to raise funds which is not more than Rwf500 per person once a year to support school feeding programme,” he added
Sinahamagaye added that contributions that are collected through the fund created by Gakenke District supplement Rwf56 which the Ministry of Education pays daily per every child.
The initiative helped scaling up the number of children under school feeding programme as well as improved the quality of education, according to school leaders.
Thomas Kuradusenge, the head teacher of GS Nganzo I, which has 735 pupils in primary and 270 students, said: “All our children are now having lunch from school; no one is excluded. Prior to that, primary school children take porridge every morning before entering class.”
Emmanuel Ndayisaba, a senior three student at GS Kirebe from Karambo Sector, said including him in the feeding scheme boosted his concentration in studies as opposed to when he used sleep in a forest around the school while other children were having a lunch
“I come from one of the poorest families in the region and I couldn’t afford money for school feeding, but I am now doing better at school as I no longer sleep in the forest at lunch time.”
On this day, Ndayisaba’s school had prepared rice and beans, mixed with vegetables for lunch.
Some other days they eat beans with posho.
Beside the money collected by Gakenke District to support children from vulnerable families to access the school feeding programme, every parent contributes Rwf10,000 per term to make the programme successful.
Gakenke District has 48 schools registered in school feeding programme.