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Gov't Yet to Decide On Feeding Mechanism For Learners

In 2013, the government came up with the school feeding and nutrition guidelines that were aimed to improve the child's health, nutrition and education performance. However, this is yet to be implemented.

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Discussions are still ongoing in the Ministry of Education and Sports to guide the cabinet on the school feeding program. About two weeks ago, the Minister in Charge of Information and Communication Technology-ICT and National Guidance, Dr. Chris Baryomunisi, disclosed that the Cabinet sitting on November 22, 2021, resolved that all Universal Primary (UPE) and Secondary Schools (USE) stop charging learners any fees once schools reopen in January next year. 

 

The announcement generated mixed reactions from heads of government schools under the UPE and USE. They were particularly concerned that the government did not explain how it intends to address the funding gaps resulting from the suspension of the PTA fees.

This includes the money for feeding learners, which is not provided under the School Capitation Grant. Now, the Minister for Higher Education, Dr. Chrysostom Muyingo has called for calm from both parents and teachers, saying that the education ministry is working on a document they intend to present before the cabinet on how to address the gaps. 

He says that the education ministry will be updating the public about the decision in a weeks’ time.    

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Currently, schools have been collecting cash or food items from parents to provide meals for learners. However, a number of schools, especially in the urban areas focused on cash contributions. The Education Act of 2008 mandates the government to provide inputs through capitation grant allocations to schools, instructional materials, and infrastructural support. 

However, the provision of food is the responsibility of parents and school communities. In April 2018, the Education and Sports Minister, Janet Kataha Museveni spearheaded the National School Feeding mobilization campaign for parents and leaders at all levels to ensure that all children get a meal during their stay at school.

In 2013, the government came up with the school feeding and nutrition guidelines that were aimed to improve the child's health, nutrition and education performance. However, this is yet to be implemented. 

As the government makes the changes, the heads of the affected schools have cautioned the government to go slow especially if it does not have enough funds to ensure that all the learners get meals at school. 

Martin Obore, the national chairperson of the Association of secondary school headteachers in Uganda and headteacher of Soroti secondary school, says that the government needs to move slowly on abolishing PTA funds as it may further compromise education standards.

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According to a 2017 report by the National Planning Authority, only 33% of the children receive a meal while at school. The report also shows that urban children are more likely to receive feeding than their rural counterparts. 

Reports from the ministry of education show 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 behaviour, poor health and end up dropping out of school.

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