Govt moves to revamp school feeding scheme

Teachers give fresh milk to school children at Kamabuye Sector in Bugesera District. / File

The Ministry of Education has devised a new policy that seeks to revamp the school feeding programme and ease the disbursement of capitation grants to schools.

The new policy, according to the State Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, Isaac Munyakazi, will ensure that students are fed a standard menu. The proposed policy awaits cabinet approval.

 

He revealed this yesterday while appearing before the parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, ICT, Culture, and Youth to give explanations on issues affecting quality education.

 

“Among others, the policy will ensure all children are fed a quality meal to ensure they get a balanced diet. There must be a standard menu developed through linking available food production in each district to the feeding programme. It had become a habit whereby most schools only feed students posho,” he told legislators.

 

In some schools, especially Twelve Year Basic Education schools, some students still miss lunch because they can’t afford the feeding fees which has got to stop.

“For instance, if a district has a high production of milk, fish, eggs, vegetables, banana and others, that must reflect on the school menus. Schools can buy them cheaply and parents can also contribute food towards the programme,” he said.

Once approved by the cabinet, he said the policy will enable schools to prepare gardens for vegetable growing and other crops as well as carrying out other projects such as poultry farming to be able to subsidize the programme so that poor students feel included.

“We are going to submit the policy to cabinet for approval and then get it implemented next year,” he said.

Over the last five years, the annual feeding budget has been Rwf5.5bn but under the new policy, it will be increased to over Rwf7bn in 2019-2020.

MP Damien Nyabyenda, chairperson of the Standing Committee on Education, ICT, Culture, and Youth, asked the ministry to explain the issue of delays in the disbursement of capitation grants.

He said it had always resulted in schools delaying to pay their contractors including those who supply food, and which eventually affects the feeding programme.

The state minister explained that part of the new policy was to ease the process of requisitioning for the grants, which he said was cumbersome.

The request goes from the district to the Education ministry for approval, then to the finance ministry which then sends the money to districts before it reaches the schools.

“It is a very big challenge; the capitation grant and school feeding grants do not reach schools on time. It is a challenge because then we cannot ask schools to perform well yet we didn’t disburse the grant.”

He added that clear guidelines have been put in place to monitor and audit the use of the money.

“We came up with these measures because we had found out that over Rwf3 billion had been mismanaged. Some of those behind the embezzlement have been arrested and others are being investigated to recover the money,” he noted.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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