Windward Road Primary School's Breakfast Programme Ensures Children's Right to Education
The rights of children to an education and to proper nutrition are being met through an innovative breakfast programme organised by the Windward Road Primary and Junior High School in eastern Kingston. The school has been working with the Jamaica Coalition for the Rights of the Child (JCRC) an NGO, which with UNICEF’s support, implements a number of projects focusing on child rights across Jamaica.
The JCRC’s Child Rights Awareness Building project in schools is its flagship programme and has helped schools, teachers, parents and children get a better understanding of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and what it means to them. More importantly, it helps stakeholders translate their understanding of these rights into concrete actions in the school community. It is currently being implemented in over 40, mostly rural, primary schools.
At the Windward Road Primary and Junior High School, the guidance department has implemented a breakfast programme for needy children, with the assistance of the JCRC. Some 120 students now benefit from the programme.
“I think the breakfast programme is very good. Sometimes parents don’t have it to give breakfast to their children and here at the school they can provide something hot for you,” explains 11 year old Shauna Kay, a grade six student at Windward Road.
“I think it is wonderful” adds 9 year old Brittney. “It is not only children who cannot afford it who benefit. Those who live far from school can’t eat breakfast at home because they have to get up very early and rush to get the bus. It is good that the school is interested to help these students.”
Both Shauna Kay and Brittney are beneficiaries of the breakfast programme which began two years ago. It was developed when guidance counsellors Mrs. Lilieth Malcolm and Ms. Sharline Cole realised that a number of children were coming to school each morning without having breakfast.
“They weren’t performing in class, they were listless and some were not coming to school. We did a needs assessment and realised that some parents could provide a meal on Monday mornings (usually from leftovers from Sunday meals) but that they were unable to provide breakfast on the other mornings. We then decided to provide breakfast on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays,” states Mrs. Malcolm.
The project proposal was submitted to the JCRC who approved it and gave the school a start up grant to begin the project. In order to ensure the project was sustainable the decision was made to provide free breakfasts to those children who were identified as needy, while the others would pay JA$30 for breakfast.
“The revolving fund idea has worked and that’s what we use to keep buying resources to continue the programme,” Mrs. Malcolm explains.
“For our project we said we would use some of the boys with behavioural problems to assist. They come early, they help put on the pots, serve and wash up. This was one way of keeping them occupied and giving them responsibilities. After a while people started to treat them differently because they saw how helpful they could be. The boys themselves look forward to their duties and they really feel a part of the programme. They do their tasks, have their breakfast and go to classes,” Mrs. Malcolm says.
Joel, 13, is one of the boys who participate in this aspect of the programme and he says he enjoys it. He has learnt to cook and to make himself handy in the kitchen and says he can now even help out in the kitchen at home.
“It is a lot of work, but it is worth it,” Ms. Cole states. “People want the breakfast programme to continue and just seeing the difference in the students is worth it. Their whole response is different. They are perky and participate in class when before they would be listless and sleepy.”