According to Hamis some of the schools which provide meals to pupils record better academic performance in examinations. He said children need nutritious food to grow better and have good understanding in class.
“Sometimes children left home to school without having a meal, the school meal programme which we want to introduce will make them learn comfortably and concentrate on studies. Most of the children in our region are fed only one type of food which is not healthy,” said the officer.
Kagera Region Education Officer, Malya Baraka said parents used to contribute food for school meals, but they stopped after the government introduced free education policy in 2015. He said children need food while at school because it is the only place where they spend more than 10 hours a day.
Social Welfare Officer from IMA Health, Jackline Kamishe said the organisation conducted survey to identify children with malnutrition in the region. She said they also educate parents on the importance of providing meals to pupils at school.
“By educating parents we are likely to reduce the problem as they will be willing to contribute for the school meal programmes which are about to be introduced. Having nutritious food will make our children healthier but also improve their academic performance,” said Kamishe.
Tanzania is among the countries with high prevalence of chronic malnutrition whereas 34 percent of children under the age of five years are stunted, and 50 percent of children between 6 and 59 months are anemic.
The 2015/2016 Demographic Health Survey (DHS) shows that the national malnutrition and stunting level is at 34 percent while 2015 data from the Tanzania Food and Nutrition Center (TFNC) indicates that some 600,000 children under five years of age were estimated to be acutely malnourished of whom 100,000 were categorized as severe.
As part of efforts to reduce malnutrition among children in the country, the government through TFNC has developed the National Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Action Plan (NMNAP) 2016 – 2021 focusing in accelerating scaling up of high impact multi-sectoral nutrition sensitive interventions and creating an enabling environment for improved nutrition, to contribute to the building of a healthy and wealthy nation.
It has also prepared and distributed the Integrated Management Childhood Illness (IMCI) guidelines and manuals addressing various nutrition interventions.