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Name:Does Provision of Food in School Increase Girls' Enrollment? Evidence from Rural Uganda

The problem of low female literacy rates in Africa starts with low primary school enrollment,particularly in areas of high food insecurity. The provision of food in, and through, schools is considered to be one way of enrolling more girls in school, keeping them enrolled, and enhancing their adult well-being and productivity as a result. Objective. To investigate the effects of provision of food and additional take-home rations in schools on girls’ enrollment.

Methods. A retrospective cross-sectional study was designed based on school-level surveys in 32 African countries between 2002 and 2005. The study population consisted of girls and boys in primary schools targeted by the World Food Programme (WFP) and located in food-insecure areas that also suffered from lack of access to education.

Results. Provision of food in schools through the Food for Education (FFE) program contributed to increasing absolute enrolment in WFP-assisted schools by 28% for girls and 22% for boys in the first year. Post year-one enrolment patterns varied according to the type of FFE program. Where provision of take-home rations for girls was combined with on-site feeding for all pupils, the increase in girls’ absolute enrollment was sustained at 30% after the first year. However, in schools providing on-site feeding alone, the rate of increase in absolute enrollment after the first year reverted to the rates of increase found in the year prior to FFE implementation. The provision of take-home rations also appeared to reduce the drop-out rate of female students, particularly in the higher grades.

Conclusions. FFE programs can have a lasting positive influence on school enrollment and, by providing extra take-home rations to girls, in addition to on-site feeding, can make a strong contribution to the Millennium Development Goals.

Author:Gelli, A, U. Meir, and F.Espejo
Publisher:Food and Nutrition Bulletin
Publication Year:2007