Title of Book: Global School Feeding Sourcebook – Lessons from 14 Countries
Name of Authors: Lesley Drake and Alice Woolnough (Editors)
Publishers: Imperial College Press
Place of Publication: London
Year of Publication: 2016
Reviewer: Dr. Ajibola Basiru
Global School Feeding Sourcebook – Lessons from 14 Countries (2016) is a comprehensive publication on school feeding program undertaken by the World Bank and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), in collaboration with the Partnership for Child Development (PCD), with aim of understanding why so many poor countries were using school feeding programs as a key part of their response to emerging food, fuel and financial crises of 2008. The book under review indicates that fourteen countries have implemented the program particularly to provide operational guidelines to decision makers and practitioners’ on school feeding by analyzing programs in different countries using a standardised approach and then to compare their case studies to see what lessons can be learned. The countries are; Botswana, Brazil, Cape Verde, Chile, Cote d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Ghana, India, Kenya, Mali, Mexico, Namibia, Nigeria and South-Africa.
Accordingly, the programs are gaining increasing recognition for their twin roles as a long-term social protection investment as well as acting as a productive safety net for children and their families in the short-term. The research by developmental partners review that the program was meant to helps get children into school and help keep them there, increasing enrolment and reducing absenteeism; and also to contribute to their learning, through avoiding hunger and enhancing cognitive abilities. The program has been linked to job creation; agricultural sector received boost in terms of demands; helped to guide countries as they make decision about different trade-offs in the design of the program and improved standard of the health of school children, evidenced in particular through a reduction in diarrheal cases, as well as cleanliness in the school environment.
There are equal numbers of programs that adopt centralized and decentralized approaches, either to take action at the highest national level or at the most local school level; it is however the context that will determine which approach is more appropriate. Most programs have shown themselves however effective in terms of their outcomes. The programs commonly targeted at public schools with a good percentage of them producing one-meal a day except countries like Chile and Ecuador that gives two rations. Approximately 368 children, which 1 out of every 5 receiving a meal school every day with universal coverage for most countries excluding Nigeria where Osun State was the focal state.
The focus of the book is on building understating at country-level and document government school feeding programs in low-and-middle income countries; ensures that positive contributions are made to food markets and the enabling systems around the countries generates structured and predictable demand for food products, thus benefiting farmers and promoting sustainable local economic development. Comparatively, the programs have shown that there are many routes to achieving a successful school feeding program. It also shows that the programs themselves are surprisingly fluid and dynamic, often changing drastically as they evolve. This implies a continuing need for countries to monitor their programs in real time and to provide feedback that can lead to evidence-based changes in policy.
A well-articulated policy and legal framework helps to create a platform for cross sectorial interaction and helps ensure better policy alignment. Whatever the mechanism, some form of regulatory framework closely informed by the national context is a perquisite for effective, sustainable and government-owned school feeding programs. Countries like Brazil, Mexico and South-Africa regulates the program through national Constitution but Osun state (Nigeria) is moving from reliance on technical guidelines towards developing a State level law on school feeding.
A critical study of Osun State School Feeding (O’MEAL) can be attributed mainly to strong political will as well as effective financial disbursement and food procurement practices. Osun is a state located in the south-western part of Nigeria, with a population of 3.5million people out of the 168million Nigerian citizens. Sometimes in 2004, the Federal Government of Nigeria initiated the Home Grown School Feeding and Health Programme (HGSFHP) through the Universal Basic Education Act of 2004 (UBEC, 2005). The legislation stipulated that at a minimum all State primary schools must provide one meal (breakfast, lunch or a take-home ration) a day to each pupil. To begin the national program the Federal Ministry of Education in 2005 decided on a phased pilot of the program which rolled out in 2006, beginning with 13 States from the six geo-political zones. The l3 pilot States included: Bauchi, Cross River, Enugu, the Federal Capital Territory, Imo, Kano, Kebbi, Kogi, Nasarawa, Ogun, Osun, Rivers, and Yobe. Out of the 13 pilot States, the Osun State HGSFHP (OSHGSFHP) was the only program that remained, representing a model of good practice amongst other school feeding initiatives in Nigeria.
The OSHGSFHP was however, redesigned in 2012 and is now termed ‘Osun Elementary School Feeding and Health Programme (O-MEALS Programme). The program currently provides one mid-morning school meal a day for over 252,000 primary school children in elementary grades 1-4 in all 1,382 public primary schools in Osun State. One cook (commonly known in the O-MEALS Programme as a food vendor) prepares the school meal for at least 50 school children.
The O-MEALS Programme receives 40% of the funding from the State and 60% of the funding from the constituting LGAs. The total annual budget stands at N2.6 billion ($16.40 million), excluding staff salaries and other support costs covered by other ministries; while per child budget is N10, 080 ($63.40) per year. Unlike other school feeding programs piloted in Nigeria, the O-MEALS Programme does not advocate for in-kind support from parents or from communities as it is in countries like Mali, Namibia. In addition, on a monthly basis an amount of N750,000 ($4,717) (N9 million [$56,604] annually) are budgeted for the monitoring and evaluation activities.
The O-MEALS Programme design is decentralized and community based. Hiring cooks is initiated at community-level. Women leaders and traditional leaders are all able to participate in hiring cooks which ensures the credibility of the cooks from within the community. Although, there is no document of quality standards for the O-MEALS Programme, but the program mandates a menu based on the National Guidelines for School Meal Planning adjusted to accommodate seasonality and local availability.
Like Brazil School Feeding Program which is currently known as ‘Programa Nacional de Alimentacao Escolar (PNAE) – the National School Feeding Programme was first introduced in early 1940s. Until 1993, school feeding implementation in Brazil was centralized at Federal level. It is an example of universal program, completely regulated and sponsored by the national government.
As at 2014, the program has reached 42,333,722 children in 163,000 public schools – children with special education needs; kindergarten; pre-primary; primary, secondary, youth and adult education; indigenous; and slave-descendant communities are benefiting from the program, making it the second largest program in the world behind India.
When Cape Verde school feeding started in 1979, following independence with WFP assistance, it was an intervention to address food insecurity but in 2010, the government of Cape Verde took full responsibility of the program and has since changed the role of the program. The program is now universal which covers children in primary schools from grade 1 to 6 as well as children in public pre-primary schools and provides a total of 85,079 pre-primary and primary school child with one meal per day.
Chile School feeding programme named Programa de Alimentacion Escolar (PAE) began as far back as 1929 and it covers 9,670 primary and secondary schools reaching 1,850,000 children with at least two rations depending on the categories (Breakfast and Lunch).
Cote d’Ivoire program was adopted by the government as a means of achieving universal education. Earlier were supported by parents and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). WFP from 1989 to 1998 support various projects through the government’s initiative, the Integrated Programme for the Sustainability of School Canteens ‘Programme Integre de Perennisation des Cantines Scolaires’ was one of such.
In this context, the Ecuador government has put special emphasis on the development of an inclusive social policy and in the consolidation of food assistance programs such as school feeding. Initially, WFP and UNDP contributed resources and technical support for the program until 2009 when government assumed full management of the program.
Ecuador provides nutritious breakfast and lunch to 1,788,414 school children from pre-primary to grade 10 of basic general education, covering 89% of students registered in the public educational system. But in 2009, the lunch aspect of the program was eliminated with the intention to extend the breakfast coverage, so as to achieve universalization by 2013.
The history of school feeding programs in Ghana dates back to the 1950s being coordinated by Catholic Relief Services and UN World Food Programme (WFP) which only limited to North of the country due to high incidence of poverty and food insecurity in the zone. In response to universal programs, Ghana government launched a nationally owned school feeding known as ‘Ghana School Feeding Programme’. In 2012, the program covered 1,642,271 school children in 4,952 primary schools within the 216 districts.
India’s school feeding program ‘Mid-Day Meal Scheme’ was launched in 1995 aiming at enhancing enrolment and retention in schools with boost universalization of primary education and simultaneously impacting on nutrition of students in primary classes. With 113.6million school children on the scheme, it is a unique example of a large-scale program regulated and sponsored by a central government, with important involvement of States and local authorities in the management, funding and implementation.
In 2003, Kenya lunched Free Primary Education which saw to additional 1million children enrolment in primary. The program recorded large successes as statistics show a primary enrolment rate rising as high as 96% in 2011. It is a partnership between the Government of Kenya and the United Nations World Food Programme (WPF).
Malian program known as ‘Programme National d Alimentation Scolaire’ seeks to promote equal access to education for girls and boys alike. It was first institutionalized in 1962 and covers one meal (lunch) per day for 109,000 school children in 809 primary schools, in addition to the number of beneficiary school children from WFP Catholic Relief Services, and other NGO-supported programs (estimated at over 200,000 beneficiaries in more than 900 targeted primary schools).
The 80-year old Mexican school breakfast programme ‘Desayunos Escolares’ stands out for its longevity and ability to survive social and administrative changes. The program has been re-thought to tackle new health challenges. Now, it represents a nationwide platform for health and development interventions and promotes healthy eating.
The Namibia School Feeding Programme (NSFP) began as a pilot program in 1991. Following the success of the pilot program, a four-year national school feeding program was launched by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in co-operation with the Government of Namibia in 1992. Vulnerable needy children were geographically targeted in schools located in drought prone low crop producing regions. This included preprimary, primary and poor private hostel institutions.
The South African school feeding programme has been in existence since 1994, when the first democratic government was elected, and is fully government funded. Close to 12miilion children in 24,255 public schools have so far enjoyed the program with a daily mid-morning cooked meal, five days a week.
The overall message is that there is no one size fits all for school feeding programs. Context is key, with different school feeding approaches being suited to different country situations. While there is no one best model, there are many good practices across programs which efficiencies and innovations can be usefully shared across countries. It also shows that the programs have evolved over time, often quite rapidly; demonstrating that programming for school feeding is typically a dynamic process which benefits from ongoing learning and adaptation.
It again suggests that a wide range of institutional arrangements can be effective and efficient in determining the design, management and implementation of school feeding programs. The key determinants of success are that the program organization should correspond with existing mandates and capacities at different levels of the government and that the responsibilities of departments and sectors are clearly defined.
School feeding costs vary considerably among low and middle income countries and the costs in the lessons as listed below cover this spectrum. An estimated of 49% school children in middle-income countries receive free school meals compared to 18% in low-income countries`.
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