There is a battle between parents and government as to who should feed school children, especially those at primary level.

According to the Education Ministry statistics, there are more than 2.5million students in primary schools across the country.

Parents, majority of them, are saying it is government that should feed their children.

The government is however saying, it can only provide the infrastructure such as kitchen, water, wood, gas or electricity and paying cooks, but not food.

However, the government acknowledges that some parents are indeed incapable of providing any contribution, which it says it can help.

The contentious subject emerged today morning during the 12th National Dialogue, where a parent from Rutsiro district pleaded on behalf of the children.

“It’s a big challenge for vulnerable parents to provide lunch for their children, the government should chip in to help,” she said and suggested government takes an upper hand.

During the 2009 national dialogue, parents agreed  to provide lunch to their children after it had emerged that there was a huge decline in academic performance among  children because there not being fed with lunch.

In fact the number of school dropouts had also increased dramatically.

Five years later today, the Ministry of Education says only 65% of the students are fed and 35% are not, because their parents cannot afford to contribute or are simply adamant.

The State Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, Olivier Rwamukwaya, told KT Press shortly after the issue was raised in the dialogue that the government intends to support the poor families starting 2015.

The CEO of Rwanda Governance Board said earlier in the dialogue that indeed 20% of Rwandan families were under extreme poverty and require government support.

He said that children in those families will be integrated into the national program which helps even those failing to support themselves in other areas such as health insurance or school fees.

Minister said that under the social scheme, known as Ubudehe, the government plans to provide up to Rwf15000 for feeding to students who come from poor families.

 

By: Lilian Gahima