In Sudan, WFP Meals Keep Children In Schools

Ayisha Ibrahim is one of the more than 860,000 school children who benefit from the school feeding programme that WFP has been supporting in 2,395 schools across Sudan.  More than 600,000 children of them are in the conflict-affected region of Darfur and the rest in Central and Eastern regions of Sudan. Ayisha dreams of becoming a doctor someday.

Red Sea State, SUDAN - Ayisha is only a fifth-grader at Um Almomineen Basic School where WFP implements a school feeding programme. She knows that she still has a long way to go before she realizes her dream of becoming a doctor. For now, she enjoys going to school and learning the basics of mathematics, science and grammar.

In the Red Sea State alone where Ayisha's school is located,retention rate in WFP-assisted schools stands at 97.3 percent compared to the state level rate of 87.2 percent.  These schools are found in some of the most food-insecure areas in the Red Sea State and statistics from these schools are found to be better than the state average.

"If there is no school feeding, there will be no classes," said Mohammed Idriss Karar, the Headmaster in Ayisha's school, adding that the programme has been a good incentive for parents to send their children to school."All the student of the school are sharing their school meal which encourages them to attend and encourages parents to enroll their children."

Ayisha and her classmates receive a cooked meal at lunch time that consists mainly of cereals and pulses to give them the energy they need throughout the school day.

Launched in 1969, the programme has been WFP's longest running programme in Sudan and has contributed significantly to the country's education system by keeping enrolment and retention rates high in schools in food-insecure and conflict-affected areas such as those in the regoin of Darfur.

While basic education is free in Sudan,parents,especially in rural areas,find it difficult to keep up with school-related expenses such as books, stationery, uniforms and pocket money.

Ayisha's father, Ibrahim, is a school teacher whose salary is barely enough to cover university fees of his two elder daughters and secondary school fees of his other children.

"With all these expenses, I find it difficult to meet the needs of all my children, and this programme has lifted the burden of providing a school meal to Ayisha," he said.

The cost of feeding a children in school throughout the year is estimated at only US$34."This is quite a small amount of money compared to the huge impact a simple daily meal has on a child's life and future in general," said WFP Head of School Feeding Programme in Sudan Arduino Mangoni.