The sanitation, hygiene and nutrition (SHN) project has been hailed as an effective model for keeping girls in school.
A German organisation—Welthungerhilfe Malawi (WHH)—is implementing a one-year SHN project in selected schools in Mangochi, Dowa, Salima and Dedza districts with support from the European Union (EU).
The project aims at promoting good sanitation and hygiene practices besides improving nutritional levels through provision of corn and soya blend meal used to prepare porridge for learners.
It follows a needs assessment by WHH last year, which indicated that an estimated 66 percent of the school children in Malawi do not eat breakfast which nutritionists say plays a critical role in the human, mental and intellectual growth.
Head teacher for Chinama Full Primary School in Mangochi Eunice Lyson admitted in an interview last week that the project has not only helped keep girls in school, but also improve their health, nutrition, enrolment and attendance in classes.
“As you might be aware, when hunger strikes a family, female learners would usually stay home to help their mothers to find food. This would, in turn, impact negatively on their school attendance and performance.
“And that’s one of the challenges Mangochi is facing to promote girl-education. However, the situation is slowly improving with the introduction of the school meals’ project,” she said.
She also disclosed that all children who dropped out of school due to food shortage in their homes have since re-enrolled.
Rose Anusa from Chumbangame village in Traditional Authority Jalasi said SHN project has motivated parents to send their children to school to gain knowledge as well as nutrition.