More students to study on an empty stomach – Report



By Ismail Musa Ladu

The government should be prepared to support or even feed the students, the majority of whom will go hungry when schools reopen, new research has revealed.

A study titled; Prospecting for school feeding and nutrition as part of universal primary education (UPE) in Uganda indicates that many households in rural areas, with children making up about 80 percent of the estimated 7.9 million learners. in primary education, have not taken charge of feeding their children at school despite the education law which gives responsibility to parents / guardians.

The Uganda Debt Network (UDN) report also states that even with more than 20 years of UPR implementation, only up to around 33 percent of children receive a school meal, leaving out 67 percent.

The report adds that only 41 percent of UPE children receive a school meal in urban and peri-urban areas, compared to 32 percent in rural areas.

And with the Covid-19 pandemic situation, the report reveals that the ability of many parents / guardians to provide food to their elementary school children has come at a cost.

Although the guidelines on school feeding and nutrition intervention programs instruct parents / guardians to provide beans, maize and other food in cash or in kind to feed their children in school, teachers , support staff and orphans, they have largely remained on paper, the report said. .

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“In line with the above, the Ministry of Education and Sports and partners such as Uganda Debt Network recognize that school feeding is an essential and integral component of a child-friendly school environment, development brain cognitive excellence and excellence, ”the report states in Part.

“On the contrary, not feeding a child at school is a violation of the rights of the child under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child and other international protocols and conventions of which Uganda is signatory, ”he adds.

According to USAID, more than 30 percent of the country’s total population faces some level of chronic food insecurity, which in part contributes to the continued inability of some families, especially in rural areas, to meet basic family needs.

Hungry at school
A 2014 Uganda Bureau of Statistics report recognizes that up to 66% of primary school students study on an empty stomach.

UPE enrollments increased from 3.1 million in 1997 to 10.7 million students in 2019. The government has also implemented universal secondary education since 2007 to absorb those who move from primary to secondary.

The report also identified insufficient and / or lack of sustainable school feeding and nutrition of students, teachers and school workers in some schools as one of the main factors affecting education.

Solution
Another recent research by UDN and the National Children’s Authority in Acholi and Karamoja sub-regions shows that school gardening can be a solution to the problem of hunger that most students suffer from. All that is needed, according to the survey, is one-time funding of about two modest school exercises, for farm implements such as hoes, machetes, pickaxes and the like.

In 2013, the government designed the school feeding and nutrition guidelines to improve the health, nutrition and educational performance of children and in April 2018, the Minister of Education, Ms. Janet Museveni, launched the campaign National School Feeding Mobilization for parents and leaders at all levels to ensure all children have a school meal.


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