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Madagascar’s First School Meal Program

Many classrooms in Madagascar are overcrowded, led by under qualified teachers and lack basic resources. The country also has a high drop out rate in primary schools.

The government is helping to improve the education system and keep more children in school by providing food for students. The Ministry of Education, in partnership with the World Food Programme, the World Bank and the Partnership for Child Development, is currently working to develop a school meal program that serves all public schools.

Nationwide, only 60 percent of students complete their primary education. The secondary school completion rate is below 25 percent. And while enrollment has increased in recent years, access to education remains a critical problem in poorer regions.

The southern districts of Madagascar have the lowest enrollment rates and the highest levels of poverty in the nation. For this reason, the initiative focuses primarily on schools in the Southern part of the country. Offering both breakfast and lunch will help to ensure that children do not go hungry, which will also enable them to concentrate better during class.

Thanks to cooperation between government and NGOs, Madagascar’s first school meal program has begun. The WFP has implemented the school-feeding program for over 220,000 children from the southern part of the country. The World Bank is also helping the government by funding meals to more than 107,000 students throughout the country. However, Madagascar still needs about $3.5 million in additional funds to feed the remaining 113,000 school children.

School meals are critical to improving the education system.

The program will incentivize parents to keep their children in school. Often, boys and girls from poor homes must drop out of school so they can work to support their families. Providing food at schools lessens the financial burden on families and increases food security since parents know that their children will have a reliable source of food.

The Ministry of Education also aims to purchase the food for the school meals from local farmers and markets. This will help the national economy, aid small farmers and make the program more self-sufficient.

With children receiving proper nutrition and an education, Madagascar’s school meal program will help to break the cycle of poverty in poor regions of the country. The food provides children with proteins and vitamins to foster cognitive and physical development, allowing children to properly receive educations and better their lives.

While the education system in Madagascar faces many problems, the government’s commitment to implementing a school meal program is a significant improvement. Supplying breakfast and lunch at school is beneficial for poor children, who might otherwise go hungry. The meals help to increase both primary and secondary completion rates and ensure a brighter future for Madagascar’s youth.

– Kathleen Egan

Sources: World Food Programme, World Bank, UNICEF
Photo: World Food Programme