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Nwoya parents adamant to embrace school feeding program

FILE PHOTO: Children visibly pleased after getting their share of school milk.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT  | Nwoya district education authorities are struggling to persuade parents to embrace school feeding programme, four years since the initiative was introduced.

The Government through the Ministry of Education and Sports recognized that feeding is essential for keeping a child in school, reduce absenteeism, improve physiological growth, enhance enrollment, learning and overall cognition.

In 2013, the Ministry designed the school feeding and nutrition guidelines to improve child health, nutrition and educational performance, however, many schools are still unable to implement them.

Justine Odong, parent in Purongo sub county explains that a few parents have embraced feeding children in school and has led to improved enrollment and enhanced performance.

But Lucy Angom, a parent in Kochgom sub county explains that while a daily school meal is a vital incentive to keep children in school, she is overwhelmed with many children whose parents cannot afford to feed them both in school and at home.

Geoffrey Ojok, the district secretary for education says that effective implementation of parent-led school feeding initiatives has been impeded by negative attitude from some parents and laxity of School Management Committees – SMCs.

The District Education Officer – DEO, George Ayiba Butele explains that many parents have negative mind-set towards the proposed parent-led school feeding which includes; cash contribution for food, food item contribution in kind and home-packed meals.

According to Butele, half of the 44 grant-aided government schools in the district are trying to implement the school feeding program while the rest are simply struggling or are not implementing it all.

The Education Ministry has repeatedly stated that hunger is one of the main reasons children perform poorly in Universal Primary Education (UPE) schools. It noted that hungry children have poor concentration and mental abilities, absenteeism, bad behavior, poor health and end up dropping out of school.

A 2017 report by National Planning Authority Report – NPA reveals that lack of school feeding in schools has implications on learners’ cognitive development, school performance and achievement.

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