Bangladesh has made excellent progress in terms of net school enrolment rates and elimination of gender disparity in education. However, 3.3 million primary school aged children remain out of school and only 51 percent of students complete their full five year cycle of primary education. Bangladesh is unlikely to achieve universal primary school completion by 2015 if current trends in access and completion do not improve.
Through school feeding, more children enrol in primary and pre-primary schools and attend classes more regularly.
With school feeding, children not only learn about the importance of a balanced and complete diet to stay well-nourished and healthy, they also discover how to make it happen. In school gardens, they grow their own vegetables and use the produce to complement their daily meals. Excess vegetables are sold to provide seeds and fencing for the next season.
Thanks to the school gardens, the students’ parents and other community members also learn about the benefits of a complete and balanced diet and many have started their own vegetable gardens.
With WFP’s support, the Government of Bangladesh started a national school feeding programme in 2011, reaching 55,000 students in the first year; 1.4 million children the next; and more than 1.7 million children to date.
WFP continues to support 800,000 schoolchildren in food insecure areas with funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the governments of Australia, Japan and Spain, corporate donor Unilever and several private donors.
Thanks to school feeding, enrolment in targeted schools has increased by 11 percent, and attendance rates have gone up from 76 percent in 2007 to 87 percent in 2012. Keeping children in school is one of the most effective ways to increase their future income earning potential and is an effective strategy for delaying marriage and increasing mobility for girls. It also improves their chances of ultimately having the knowledge and resources to provide enough of the right food for their own children.
Together with the Government of Bangladesh, WFP continues to work on establishing school feeding in more schools in a sustainable way. In 2013, WFP will pilot cooked school meals in 63 schools, working with the communities to provide a nutritious, home-grown lunch instead of biscuits. The ingredients will be bought from local farmers, helping entire communities to benefit from the school meals programme.
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