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Gulu passes school feeding policy compelling parents to feed children

By Geoffrey Mutegeki

Added 28th March 2018 08:00 PM

According to the policy, all children in the district will be paying a uniform amount of money towards the feeding programme with variations between urban and rural schools.

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Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, Gulu LC 5 chairman. Photo by Dennis Ojwee

According to the policy, all children in the district will be paying a uniform amount of money towards the feeding programme with variations between urban and rural schools.

Gulu district has passed a school feeding policy that compels parents to provide lunch to their children during school or be punished.

The policy passed on Wednesday during the district council meeting in Gulu town was presented by Martin Ojara Mapenduzi.

According to the policy, parents who fail to ensure children eat at school can be subjected to punishment as determined by sub county bye-laws.

Also head teachers that will not embrace the policy programme are subject to disciplinary action under the Public Standing Orders.

The policy however, spells out that no child shall be punished in anyway or prevented from attending school as a result of their parent’s failure to contribute to the school feeding programme.

None Government Organisation (NGOs) are barred from providing food to the schools.

“No NGO shall be permitted to start a new programme to provide food to schools for feeding programme. This undermines long term sustainability of Gulu’s policy,” reads the policy.

However, NGOs with existing memorandum of understanding to schools have been given a go ahead to continue providing food up to the end of their MOU.

“We are encouraging these (NGOs) to carefully phase out their support and start encouraging parents to increasingly contribute,” Mapenduzi said.

Mapenduzi says this is aimed at taking back responsibility to parents and for sustainability of the programme when NGO’s move out.

“Parents need to know that it is their responsibility to feed their children,” Mapenduzi says.

Currently, in Gulu there are only two schools supported by NGOs to feed children.

The policy highly discourages parents from sending their children with packed lunch but can only be permitted under special circumstances if the head teacher registers them as students carrying packed food.

Children will not be permitted to buy food from vendors or canteens near schools and vendors should not be allowed inside school grounds.

Caesar Akena, the Gulu District Education Officer (DEO) who described the passing of the policy as great day for every child in Gulu said the policy gives parents options in which to support their children’s feeding.

Gulu has 80 primary schools where 55 are government aided and the 52 of them have so far started implementing the policy.

World over school feeding programmes are being adopted by many countries to improve school performance and enhance children’s nutrition.

In 2015 the government introduced a national guideline on school feeding designed to assist districts in the development and implementation of district school feeding policies.

Although several feeding programmes have been implemented at different times by donors, there has never been a country wide programme.

According to the policy, all children in the district will be paying a uniform amount of money towards the feeding programme with variations between urban and rural schools.

However, parents can contribute through two modules; through paying cash or in kind by providing food. 

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