Royal Pride Community Academy Feeding Programme
The relationship between effective learning and adequate nutrition is well established. Not only do hungry children find it difficult to concentrate on their learning; they also find it difficult to retain the knowledge they gain, making it hard for them to build on their learning. Children’s diets may also lack specific nutrients which are important in helping to develop neural pathways in the brain. Hungry children exhibit lower levels of attentiveness than children who receive appropriate nutrition. They may also have lower levels of attendance which result in their missing work and falling behind their peers. The likelihood of children then dropping out of school may increase as a consequence. Uganda as a whole has a 75% dropout rate between P1 and P7. This dropout rate is disproportionately higher in schools serving poor communities.
Aims of the Feeding Programme at Royal Pride
The Feeding Programme at Royal Pride has been initiated in response to the needs of the children in both the nursery and the primary departments. Roughly 40 children join the school in P1 each year. In 2012, only 13 were retained to P7. Financial pressures on local families are increasing, making it difficult for them to provide an adequate diet for their children. In Uganda, inflation currently stands at about 30%, with food inflation reaching 50%. Parents may remove their children from school, either temporarily or permanently, and send them to work in order to help feed the family as a whole. Child labour is illegal in Uganda.
The aims of the programme are to:
- improve the quality of the children’s health and therefore their learning;
- improve attendance; and
- in the longer term, to reduce the dropout rate.
Scope of the Feeding Programme
· This is a short-term project, with funding for session 2012-2013 provided by supporters in the UK. If the VSO Cluster is successful in gaining additional funding, for example from a charity or NGO, it may last as long as three years.
· The programme is only for the children of Royal Pride, not for children in the local community who do not attend school, as its key aim is to improve learning and attendance.
· The programme is not intended to provide an unlimited supply of food or even enough food to fulfil the daily needs of each child. Some of the older children, in particular, may still be hungry even after they have received their serving of porridge. The programme is designed to supplement the diet provided by their parents, not replace it.
· School staff will continue to track the health of individual children by measuring their height and weight against the baseline established at the Health Screening day. Any children whose increases in height and weight are falling below expected levels may be given supplements of the kind recommended by nutritionists working for VSO.
VSO Kampala Cluster Group