Mozambique: Food for Education is a Holistic Catalyst“I was often sad and hungry at school so my performance was poor. My teachers always had to make extra effort to get my attention.” This is how Teresa, a young Mozambican girl, experienced school for much of her childhood: hungry and unfocused.
World Vision believes that education is vital, but, helping students succeed is more than just getting students into classrooms. Learning requires concentrated dedication and discipline by both teachers and pupils. Unfortunately, hunger can often leave children distracted and less able to concentrate, which can have drastic, rippling effects on a child’s ability to succeed in the classroom, and later in the workplace. This is why World Vision Mozambique developed the Educating Children Together Project (ECTP).
Running from October 2012 through to December 2015, this project aims to reduce short term hunger, enhance local agriculture, improve health and boost literacy for over 200,000 people. This programme distributed daily school meals prepared by community volunteers for about 61,000 students and 2,000 teachers and cooks across 150 schools.
But the project went beyond just school feeding programme. As the project name implies, educating children has to be done together in order to be successful. A corresponding agriculture programme was developed to help ensure the sustainability of the project by linking local farmers groups with participating schools. The project supplied farmers groups with maize, peanut and cabbage seeds, as well as agriculture input to improve crop diversity and yield. In turn, the farmers groups donated up to 30 per cent of their harvest to the school for the feeding programme.
The World Food Programme estimates that one-third of the Mozambican population is chronically food-insecure and half a million children aged six to 23 months are undernourished. Thanks to the effort of World Vision’s ECTP, this number is decreasing. Students are finding it easier to concentrate; teachers and school administrators are benefiting as well. “Now this school has an opportunity to provide better quality of literacy for the kids in this community and surrounding villages,” exclaims Faztudo, the headmaster of one of the schools.
Teresa says, “I think with the arrival of the project, many children, like me, enjoy a better learning environment which improves our reading as well as our understanding of what our teachers are teaching.” We believe this project does not only help children learn better, but also help to alleviate hunger.