Management of home grown school feeding programme and its implication on access and retention in primary schools: a case of Kathonzweni District
Weru, Willie Machocho
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School feeding programes have the potential to increase access to primary education, reduce dropout rates, particularly in the lower primary school grades, and improve academic achievement of pupils. However, the way the programes are structured, especially in terms of the geographical targeting of benefiting schools, the school feeding modalities, financial allocations and community ownership of the programmes, could lead to major constraints that limit the success of the school feeding programmes. The purpose of this study was to assess the management of home-grown school feeding programme (HGSF) in public primary schools in Kathonzweni District, and its implication on access and retention of pupils. The objectives of the study were to assess the Management of home grown school feeding programme in Kathonzweni District, determine the impact of home-grown school feeding programmes on education access and retention in public primary schools in Kathonzweni District, and suggest strategies that can be employed to improve the management of home-grown school feeding programmes in the district. The study employed a descriptive survey research design, targeting all the 88 primary schools in Kathonzweni District, including 48 schools that benefit from home-grown school feeding programme and 40 that do not benefit. Stratified random sampling was used to select 12 schools implementing HGSF and 16 schools not implementing the programme, giving a total of 28 schools. From each of the schools, the researcher sampled the headteacher, two School Management Committee (SMC) representatives, and two representatives of school feeding programme committee (SFPC), (for schools offering HGSF). The District School Feeding Programme Officer (DSFPO) was also included in the study. The study sample therefore comprised of 28 headteachers, 56 SMC representatives, one DSFPO and 24 SFPC members, giving a total of 109 respondents. Data was collected using questionnaires, interview schedules and observation guides. Data collected was coded and entered in the computer for analysis using the statistical package for social science (SPSS). Descriptive statistical methods such as percentages mean and frequencies were used to report the data. The results of data analysis were reported in summary form using frequency tables, frequency polygons, bar graphs and pie charts. The study established that the criteria for determining schools to benefit from HGSFP was unfair, since all the schools in Kathonzweni deserve to be in the programme. The study also revealed that the biggest challenge facing the implementation of HGSFP was the rising cost of food commodities. It was discovered that HGSFP had a positive impact on both access to education and retention of pupils in schools. This was because the schools with HGSFP registered a rising enrolment of pupils over the years as opposed to those schools without. They also registered few or no drop outs over the years. It emerged that the chief cause of drop outs was hunger which, when addressed by the HGSFP, checked the dropout rates. The study recommends that: the government should ensure that there is proper and regular feeding programme in all schools in Kathonzweni district. It should also provide funds for the feeding programmes in good time and ensure it is enough for the schools according to the pupils' population; the government should also cushion schools from the escalating food prices by giving them some additional funds when the prices shoot up unexpectedly, to ensure constant adequate food supply; among other recommendations.