School Feeding Program Helps to Cut Dropouts

Addis Ababa , October 25/2019 Prioritizing school feeding program would help students to keep in school and cut dropouts, Addis Ababa Education Bureau said. 

Addis Ababa City Administration has launched a school feeding program that benefits about 300,000 students aiming to boost enrollment and reducing absenteeism among school children.

Parents of beneficiary students told ENA that the school feeding program is helping to get children into school and trim down school dropout.

Degitu Muluken, who is a housemaid in Addis Ababa, has two children in schooling age where as she couldn’t provide enough food for them and afford school fee.  She was forced to drop her children out of school due to malnutrition.

But now Degitu is contented with the launch of school feeding program in the capital which helped her children to get supplementary food in the school.

The program can contribute to the learning through avoiding hunger and enhancing cognitive ability of the children, she said.

“I am very happy with the program and my children get free meal in the school. Even the government sponsored them to get school uniform and learning materials,” she said.

Fikirte Hailu, a mother of a school feeding recipient student, said the program helps her child to get enough meal at school and is hoping to improve her academic performance. The school meal program is also saving time for parents.  

“They wake up, wash their hands and hurry go to school, the food is healthy and they are very happy with that. For me, it saved my time and eases my difficulties; I can reach to my workplace on time,” she said.

Grade 8 student Emirah Selman described the program as vital to keep students in school and reduce drop outs because of malnutrition.

“The school meal helps students to attend their class with fresh and cozy body and mind than thinking getting food,” he said.

Likewise, Robel Haile, said the school feeding program helped him to focus on schooling though his parents couldn’t afford enough food.   

Addis Ababa Education Bureau said the school feeding program is prioritized within the Zero Hunger strategy to address hunger and ensure human right to adequate food for all.  

Education Supervision and School Expansion Representative at the Bureau, Tsegaye Assefa said provision of nutritious meals at school will boost cognitive abilities of students and eases school drop outs.

According to him, previously the school feeding program was provided only for identified needy students but the current school meal offers to all pre and primary school students.

“Previously the school feeding was offered for all students but, the current school feeding addresses all students, because the previous one was affecting the psychology of the needy ones,” he said.

Tsegaye noted that the city administration will spend 42 million Birr for this academic year to feed an estimated 300, 000 school children in Addis Ababa.

The meals represent an indirect income transfer to households and a potent incentive for families to continue to spend in education, despite their livelihoods being under stress, he added.

The program is undertaking in almost 250 pre and primary schools and over 10,000 mothers have secured job opportunity in addition to the students benefiting from the school meal.

According to World Food Program over 330 million children are receiving school meals, in almost every country in the world and countries are investing about 30 billion USD on school feeding every year.

Ethiopian News Agency