School Feeding in Guinea-Bissau Decreases Gender Disparity in Primary Schools
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Published on 30 March 2011

Students from the primary school of Pacua in Bafata, East Region of Guinea-Bissau.

Copyright:WFP/Wilson Gama

As WFP works toward a handover of its School Feeding programme in Guinea-Bissau, Pacua Primary School shows the successes of the programme. Thanks to daily school meals, now more than half of the students are girls.

In Bafatá region, in eastern Guinea-Bissau, Pacua Primary School has set a good example of the benefits of WFP’s School Feeding programme. At Pacua, 70 students in the 1st to 3rd grades receive hot meals every day.As a result of School Feeding, now more than half of the students are girls.

“Thanks to WFP’s meals, the disparity between boys and girls has been reduced, and the students are very happy to come to school,” said Mr. Amadu Balde, a teacher at Pacua. “Most of them would only eat once a day without WFP’s food assistance.”

WFP’s School Feeding programme in Guinea-Bissau currently reaches 791 schools and 126,000 students in the regions of Gabu, Bafatá Tombali, Quinara, Oio, Cacheu and Biombo. The programme aims to increase enrolment and attendance rates, reduce dropout rates and lessen the disparity between boys and girls in primary schools, particularly between the 4th and 6th grades. In addition, School Feeding contributes to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by promoting access to basic education for all children.

As WFP ends its relief and recovery operation in Guinea-Bissau, it is focusing on longer-term development projects in the country. This includes a gradual move toward transferring the management of the School Feeding programme to the Government of Guinea-Bissau. Through this handover, WFP will aim to ensure the continuation of the progress achieved to date and to work toward an improved quality of education. WFP will also work with the newly created General Directorate of Social Affairs and School Feeding to strengthen its management and monitoring capacity.

As WFP anticipates the future of the School Feeding programme in Guinea-Bissau, the community at Pacua Primary School remains enthusiastic about what the School Feeding has already done for them. “The parents say that it’s a very good incentive for the kids to go to school,” says Mr. Balde. School Feeding also acts as an incentive “for parents to allow their children to go to school, as the programme represents an important income for the family.”