VSO strengthens school-feeding program in Nyamasheke District

Parents, teachers and pupils at Mutongo Primary School in Macuba sector, Nyamasheke District have all reasons to appreciate the significant improvement of education in nursery since Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), an International Organization, started supporting the school feeding program.

Caption:Claude G Kamba SSRR Project Manager leading VSO school tour. They saw a demonstrative garden made to show case on how to produce vegetables for parents home grown gardens.

BY FREDERIC BYUMVUHORE

Parents, teachers and pupils at Mutongo Primary School in Macuba sector, Nyamasheke District have all reasons to appreciate the significant improvement of education in nursery since Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), an International Organization, started supporting the school feeding program.

Wednesday last week, a team of District officials and JADF together with VSO country director paid a joint visit to Mutongo Primary School to assess what has been done under the school-feeding program and identify what can be improved.  

VSO focuses on strengthening Early Childhood Education for children aged between 3-6, to nurture their potentials, and prepare them for primary education with a good foundation. VSO works in collaboration with Nyamasheke district.

From the beginning of the project this year, the organization has been sensitizing and encouraging parents to take their children to school and support the school feeding program.  It also equipped teachers with quality teaching methodologies and integrated  healthy feeding programs in the day-to-day school activities for healthy growth and proper learning.

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Caption:A parent and VSO employee help children to wash hands

According to Daniel Banguwiha, the Headmaster of Mutongo Primary school, Early Childhood Education has apparently improved since the pupils started taking porridge at school.

Besides, Banguwiha says, VSO has been of essence in changing parents’ mindsets about Early Childhood Education and training teachers.

Banguwiha said that as result of VSO interventions, the number of children at the nursery has increased from 55 (last year) to 97 children today.

“VSO has played a big role in promoting Early Childhood Education. Today, children eat porridge at school which makes them stay at school until midday. Before, it was difficult to control children as some would come to school and after one hour they would start feeling uncomfortable, cry, demanding to go home because they were hungry,” he added.

Dorothe Nyiranzeyimana, one of the parents, says that she realizes the changes to her child following the feeding program implemented at the school. 

“There is a significant change since we started feeding the children. Before, children would sleep in class because they would easily get  hungry. They could not follow the lessons well. Currently, the children follow the teaching and performance has improved,” Nyiranzeyimana says.

The children take  porridge at 9:00 am every day.

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Caption:Children taking porridge at Mutongo Primary School

Alphonse Sinabajije, Nyamasheke District Education director, says  that nursery education in the district is still nascent but has a good potential.

“We have VSO to thank this achievement for. Children are now following the lessons.  The VSO has provided trainings for teachers and sensitized parents on supporting the program,” Sinabajije explains.

Papa Diouf, VSO country director, said that VSO will keep on partnering with Nyamasheke District to improve the Early Childhood Education.

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Caption:Papa Diouf, VSO Country Director at Mutongo Primary school

“We keep on training teachers and call parents to be the primary agents of their children’s education. We have realized the shortage of classrooms for nursery education. At this school the children are using rooms that belong to Methodist parish. We are planning to construct the classrooms in partnership with the district to provide a friendly learning environment for the children,” Diouf promises.

Children need to have adequate nutrition to be able to perform well at school. We encourage the schools to partner with parents and establish school gardens where they can produce vegetables to support school feeding programme, he encourages.

VSO is an international organization working with the Ministry of Education in Rwanda since 1998. The project mainly invests its resources in Nyamasheke district, which, in the most recent survey, was categorised as the poorest district. VSO targets to strengthen School-Readiness in Rwanda as the most comprehensive Early Childhood Education (ECE) initiative.

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Caption:The VSO team during the tour of school

The organization also targets to establish 30 model ECE centres .Two model centres will be strategically located in each of the 15 sectors in Nyamasheke, one developed from an existing school-based primary school, and one based where it can be accessed within an underserved community. 

Strengthening School Readiness in Rwanda (SSRR) project is funded by Dubai Cares in Nyamasheke District for 3 years as from 2016-2019.

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