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School feeding programme needs further expansion

20th December 2011
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According to a survey carried out by HakiElimu recently, a lot of school children in Bagamoyo district, Coast region, complained of a lack of food which often times causes them to drop out of school.

The head master of Mwanamakuka Primary School, Mr. Mohammed Amuri said in an interview that there was no food being provided to his 691 pupils at the school.

He added that in schools where food was being provided, academic performance had improved remarkably.

For example, at Kidugalo Primary School, also in Coast region, pupils performed better because of a school feeding programme which was put in place in 2009.

The truth of the matter is that there is really no secret in all this. It is a fact that primary school children are growing children and growing children need food.

A school day is long and it is only natural that children will get hungry during the course of their studies.

Whereas it is totally expected of an adult to withstand hunger pangs, children are a completely different kettle of fish.

For instance, when they are at home, they are seen munching on one thing or another all the time.

Therefore, it is not very clever of us to think that being in school will magically change their metabolism.

But perhaps the idea of feeding children in school was always mired in doubt as some might have believed that this was not all that important to their academic performance. Further proof though has been supplied by a recent study which showed that academic performance and attendance rise with the provision of food in school.

This has been amply demonstrated in schools in five regions, where there was a school feeding programme (SFP) sponsored by the World Food Programme (WFP).

The five regions are: Manyara, Shinyanga, Dodoma, Arusha and Singida.

The study also showed that because of the school feeding programme in place, there was improvement in all areas across the board, including: fewer drop-outs, attendance, classroom concentration and children’s health.

If the provision of food can have such a positive effect, it is clear that everything possible should be done to ensure that this programme is expanded to cover all areas of the country.

After all, school children are found in every nook and cranny of the country and it is only fair that every Tanzanian child should have the opportunity to benefit from a programme like this.

We all know that there are many children who do not complete their primary education because of various problems, but if the same children were assured of a meal in school, we wonder if the drop-out rate would be as high as it is now.

Consider the case of Urambo district where the lack of a school feeding programme in some schools, prompted many children to leave school and work on tobacco farms, all in an effort to get something to eat.

Such desperation clearly illustrates once again the importance of the school feeding programme.

Indeed, it does not take a brain surgeon to surmise that this programme is extremely beneficial to children in the country and that the sooner it is implemented across the whole country, the better.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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