A parliament field report conducted in several schools across the country has found loopholes in school feeding programs which creates a poor education environment and undermines quality of education at large.
The report was conducted between 03-14 February 2020 to assess quality of education.
The school feeding policy requires that parents contribute to the meal for children to have lunch for students in the Nine and 12 year basic education programs (9YBE&12YBE) of which the government makes a baseline contribution of Rwf56 per student per day.
The report presented by MP Damien Nyabyenda showed lawmakers that parents participation (49%) in the school feeding program is too low in day scholars while the boarding school student’s feeding program was doing well comparatively.
“There is a small role played by parents in feeding their children in the 12 year school program, and thus resulting in poor feeding for students. In most cases we found that parents are totally not unaware or involved,” Nyabyenda said, this Friday.
Nyabyenda’s report stated that some students either end up going hungry or are subsequently served with little quantities of food, which also leaves the school administration with a burden to finance such programs.
The parliament report showed that when the ministry of education was asked to give explanations on this issue, it said that they are developing a School Feeding Policy which will give guidelines.
The ministry also said the policy will focus on schools using available food produced in the respective districts to feed the students and this will be in collaboration with parents.
However, this report left many lawmakers in awe and surprise thus recommending parliament to summon the education ministry to explain in depth how this policy will work and its timeline of completion.
MP Frank Habineza suggested that there should be alternative methods devised to make sure that students and pupils are served food every school day.
“I propose that they at least take porridge at break-time (10:00 AM) and at Lunch time (12:00-13:00), since providing food has become difficult,” Habineza said.
The parliament report also showed that government teachers in the 9 and 12 year basic education system don’t get their teachers stipends or motivation payments while others in government and government aided secondary schools do.
Normally the teacher’s stipend is an extra or separate fund contributed by parents to motivate teachers, an amount that is agreed on between the Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) committees.
On this issue, the report showed secondary school teachers who get a motivation payment earn between Rwf40000-Rwf90000 on top of their salaries while in primary schools teachers get an extra Rwf30000-50000; which creates inequality among teachers yet all are employed by the government.
MP Habineza also suggested that in order to address the issues of teacher’s stipends the government should consider setting up a special market for teachers – Teachers’ Shop.
He said “The shop can be a place where teachers could be able to purchase necessities on a subsidized price, as it’s the case for armed forces.”
In its resolution Parliament said; “the ministry will be summoned to explain the role of the parents in the feeding policy and what happens in case they don’t make contributions,” among other issues which include discrepancies in teachers stipends.
Despite the 20,000 school classrooms to be constructed this year, the ministry of education will also explain why there are some schools with more than 120 children in a classroom.
The Ministry will also have to explain the logic of the 5% auto promotion which has resulted in low quality of education.
Among the 18 questions, the ministry will also explain why the Competence Based Curriculum is not available in some schools.