Schools in Addis Ababa join African free school meal revolution
London, Sep 24, 2019 (AltAfrica)-Pupils at state-run junior schools in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, are to receive free school meals from the start of the new academic year in October.
With the programme, it means Ethiopia has joined eight other African countries-Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal and Zambia, participating in the first phase of the NEPAD initiative, which is designed to provide meals to about 674,000 students
Zelalem Mulatu, deputy of the Addis Ababa City Education Bureau speaking to BBC said: “we are planning to feed more than 300,000 students.”
He said the city administration was expanding a scheme that had been feeding 70,000 pupils.
It is part of efforts to stop students at state-run schools from dropping out of education.
In July it was announced that all primary school pupils in Addis Ababa would be getting free uniforms and free exercise books from October.
Many students at publicly funded primary schools come from low-income families.
“This scheme will enhance student’s active learning,” Mr. Zelalem said.
“It will also be an incentive for children to come to school as well as an incentive for the parents to send their children to school.”
He said the initiative would also create job opportunities for unemployed parents, who were being recruited to cook the meals.
Jean-Noel Gentile, the deputy Senegal country director of the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP), says the daily meals given at the school motivate parents to enroll their children and encourage the students to remain there.
The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), a vision and strategic framework adopted by African leaders in 2001, refers to education as an important step in reviving prosperity on the continent.
NEPAD officials are working with partners such as the WFP to get every child into primary school. Together, they also hope to expand access to secondary education and improve the relevance of school curricula to Africa’s development
NEPAD, with the WFP and other partners, is linking school feeding directly with agricultural development. The scheme, officially known as the Home-Grown School Feeding programme, insists on buying from local farmers the rice, beans, wheat, dairy and other ingredients used to prepare the food children are given in schools. It therefore reduces malnutrition while providing local farmers with the opportunity to sell their produce to participating schools.
This provides market incentives to farmers to grow more. They also save money as they do not have to travel far to markets. Previously, Ms. Duffy says, food was bought from outside because local farmers were often not able to grow enough high-quality crops. African leaders, under the NEPAD framework, are helping farmers to get better-quality seeds and tools to meet the continent’s food needs.
In addition to boosting student nutrition and providing farmers with a local market, the initiative is improving the economic welfare of local community members.
Many now have jobs processing and cooking food for the students. They are hired, according to the WFP, to turn wheat into high-protein biscuits, cook meals and wash utensils. Also, students clean the food warehouse and utensils.