The Ministry of Education is in the process of mobilising parents countrywide to participate in the school feeding programme as part of the government’s efforts to expand the programme.
Currently, the programme covers only 300 primary schools in 11 districts across the country. School children receive free lunch every day.
The ministry wants all schools in all the country’s 30 districts to benefit from the project.
The project started in 2002 in districts prone to cases of hunger and malnutrition.
Speaking to The New Times yesterday, Dr. Mathias Harebamungu, the Minister of State in Charge of Primary and Secondary Education, said that his ministry is engaging parents to be part of the campaign.
He stated that the programme must be accorded utmost attention as it contributes towards alleviating hunger and improves children’s performance as well as enhancing school attendance.
According to the coordinator of the school feeding programme Vivian Niyibizi Mukanyirigira, the ministry has embarked on a massive sensitisation campaign to enable parents learn about the benefits of the initiative to their children.
“We are done with mobilisation in the Eastern Province and the parents welcomed the idea. The drive is continuing to the Northern Province before we wind up all the provinces at the end of this year,” she explained.
Mukanyirigira mentioned that the government had set a timeline of at least 2013 when the World Food Programme (WFP), which has been feeding school children, to cease doing so.
“We want all the primary schools countrywide to have started the implementation of the programme next year in January,” she stated.
She added that the programme is aimed at addressing child malnutrition, noting that cognitive development of a child was crucial at the very first phase of his/her life.
The feeding scheme was introduced in the country to enhance the children’s active learning capacity, provide an incentive for them to attend school regularly and address certain nutritional issues.
The programme is also a reflection of the government’s strategic framework to get and keep every child in school as well as contributing to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) considers home grown school feeding as a key food security intervention within the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme– CAADP.