Rwanda: Govt injects Rwf27bn towards school feeding

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The Government of Rwanda has allocated over Rwf27 billion to support the expansion of the school feeding programme to all students in pre-primary, primary and secondary schools in the current fiscal year. 

The plan to extend the school feeding programme to all students was announced last year. 

While presenting the Government of Rwanda’s actions relating to the promotion of TVETs and Polytechnics to a joint plenary sitting of both chambers of Parliament last week on July 22, Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente said that the funding during this fiscal year is intended to help all school children get meal.

“The Government wants to ensure that children have proper feeding at school so that they study well and become good citizens,” he said, underscoring the importance of proper nutrition in the development of children.

As usual, the government support consists of Rwf56 per day as contribution to each student’s feeding while at school.

However, Members of Parliament and schools have expressed concern that the Rwf56 which the Government has been contributing to the school feeding per student a day was small and not matching the current high cost of living.

Meanwhile, in December 2020, the Premier told MPs that though the support was small, it would amount to a significant annual expenditure – about Rwf38 billion – from the national treasury given the large number of students – over 3.3 million – to support in the scaled-up school feeding.

Speaking to the media, MP Omar Munyaneza, Chairperson of the Chamber of Deputies’ Committee on National Budget and Patrimony said that as the expansion of the school feeding was a resolution of the Cabinet, the Ministry [of Finance and Economic Planning] told MPs that the funding that might be lacking would be catered for during this financial year budget revision.

Munyaneza said that the move will help address the situation where some children had meals at school while others did not [because they could not afford the cost], and the children who dropped out of school as they could not manage to continue studying while hungry.

“This action will contribute to tackling school dropout,” he said, indicating that it will encourage children to go to school.

School Feeding

In 2019 the school feeding programme was implemented in secondary schools (public and government-aided) with 680,000 students receiving Government subsidy on school meals, according to a presentation on National School Feeding Programme in Rwanda made during the Global Child Nutrition Forum (GCNF) Virtual Conference held on November 9, 2020.

In 2020, the Government announced the plan to scale up the programme to over 3.3 million pre-primary, primary and secondary students in all public and government-aided schools, implying an increase of 396 percent of the beneficiaries.

The presentation indicated that there was construction of kitchens in 2,648 schools that did not have school feeding programme, and that energy-saving cooking stoves were provided to all of those schools.

The annual feeding budget had been Rwf5.5 billion per year as of the financial year 2018/2019, but, in August 2019, the Ministry of Education announced an increment of the funding to over Rwf7 billion in 2019/2020.

Parents’ contribution

According to the Rwanda School Feeding Operational Guidelines Summary by the Ministry of Education (MINEDUC), the value of a nutritious meal for this programme is 150 based on menu modelling conducted by MINEDUC and the World Food Programme in 2020 and the National School Feeding Policy.

Within the national school feeding programme, the government provides a subsidy of Rwf56 per student per meal a day, which is about 40 percent of the daily meal cost.

To ensure that students receive a nutritious meal, parents are required to contribute the remaining Rwf94 per student per meal – or over 60 percent of the cost – via cash and/or in-kind contributions, the guidelines state.

Based on a daily contribution of Rwf94 per student per meal, a parent would contribute Rwf1,974 per month, Rwf5,922 per quarter and Rwf17,860 per year.

In-kind contributions can include firewood, labour or food such as beans, peas, vegetables, potatoes, banana and cassava. In-kind food items must align with a school’s planned meal menus, which may vary from term to term.

To ensure accurate procurement planning by the school’s management, the guidelines require that parents should communicate to the school management their intent to contribute in-kind, prior to the beginning of each term.

However, district school feeding committees may decide in consultation with school-level school feeding committees to revise the amount to be contributed by parents based on food commodity costs in the local area and the capacity of parents to pay.

Source: The New Times