Albertina in the classroom with her classmates who also benefit from school meals. WFP/Neema Nkomawanthu
Albertina Naftal (9) lives with her parents, two brothers and two sisters in a hut made of sticks and grass in the village of Muchenga, in Changara, west of Mozambique.
This district is one of the poorest in the country and is classified by the disaster management authorities as arid due to the low rainfall which is below 500mm per year. Albertina’s parents are small farmers and the low yields are just enough to feed the family and bring in some money to pay for the schooling of their children. When the weather conditions are unfavourable, they have little choice but to cut down on the amount of food. “In home we normally have only one meal per day and this is the dinner. But I can have an extra meal in my school for lunch” says Albertina.
Fortunately for her and her classmates, Makhonje school is supported by the UN World Food Programme which ensures regular deliveries of food to their school. This means that, every day, the children get to eat a hot meal at school which helps them to apply themselves to their lessons. “Before the school meal programme first came to Makhonje, children used to come to the school without having eaten, some of them even desist and stop coming to school. At that time, it was very difficult to maintain the their concentration” says the Albertina’s teacher. Attendance rates at Makhonje school have increased a 6% since school meals programme started in May 2012.
Despite the difficult conditions, Albertina is an outstanding student. Among her 4th grade classmates at Makhonje primary school, she is known not just for her studiousness but also for her support for her fellow pupils. “I like studying and help my classmates to do their homework. I would like to become a teacher” she says.
WFP Mozambique provide food assistance in the form of a school meal to up to 69,927 students (37,061 boys and 32,866 girls) and 2,232 teachers and voluntary cooks in 174 Primary Schools located in 2 different food-insecure districts in the central region of Mozambique. A school meal consists of a bowl of fortified maize meal, beans, fortified vegetable oil and iodized salt. Enrolment rates increased by 4.5% and 1.5% for boys and girls respectively, compared to 2011.
School meals programme allows children like Albertina not only to improve their food security and nutrition but also to improve their school performance and help them to reach their educational goals.