New School Feeding Programme to boost learning for Urban Working Children
January 18, 2011, Dhaka – A new school feeding programme launched today for urban working children is expected to improve attendance and completion rates at learning centers. A total of 73,326 children aged between 10 - 14 of whom 60 per cent are girls – enrolled in the Basic Education for Hard to Reach Urban Working Children (BEHTRUWC) project will be reached through this programme.
The feeding programme will provide micronutrient-fortified biscuits to 73,326 learners in 3333 learning centers in Dhaka, Chittagong, Rajshahi, Khulna, Sylhet and Barisal. It will be implemented under a joint cooperation agreement among the Bureau of Non-Formal Education (BNFE) of the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education, the World Food Programme and UNICEF Bangladesh.
“I hope this joint programme will contribute to significantly increasing the attendance rate of BEHTRUWC learners by 10 per cent from the benchmark. This would also help strengthen community mobilization and awareness on issues related to health, hygiene and nutrition’, said A K M Abdul Awal Majumdar, Secretary, Ministry of Primary and Mass Education in a launching ceremony held in Mohakhali, Dhaka.
Across major cities in Bangladesh, working children face tremendous hardship which affects their nutritional status, as well as their attendance at schools or learning centers. This joint initiative will extend care and protection to these children. Employing the "earn-and-learn" approach ensures that children continue to make enough money to support their families while fulfilling their right to an education. Any child between the ages of 10 - 14, not attending any other educational institution and working at least seven hours a week, is eligible for enrollment.
Employing the "earn-and-learn" approach ensures that children continue to make enough money to support their families while fulfilling their right to an education. Any child between the ages of 10 - 14, who is not attending any other educational institution and is working at least seven hours a week, is eligible for enrollment.
“Considering the evidence that the WFP assisted school feeding programme increases enrolment and attendance and reduces drop-out- rates, we are happy to scale up the programme with a realistic model to provide food support to disadvantaged working children located in urban slums and low income areas and retain them in learning centres,” said Christa Rader, WFP Bangladesh Representative.
Although Bangladesh has made significant improvements in access to primary education, children living in urban slums are the most disadvantaged. Their net rate of school attendance is 16 per cent lower than the national average of 65 per cent (BBS, MICS 2009), and retaining them in the basic education programme is a challenge.
“This joint initiative has created an opportunity to help retain urban working children in the basic non-formal education programme. The learning opportunity represented by this initiative will allow the Government to replicate this model in the future on a much larger scale. We have recently demonstrated through a paper entitled Investing in Vulnerable Children that it is financially feasible for the government to considerably expand this programme under its Social Safety Net Programme” said Carel de Rooy, UNICEF Representative in Bangladesh.
The school feeding programme is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) through its funding to BEHTRUWC Project. Under the programme, all working children at learning centers will receive a 75-gram packet of 8 biscuits six days per week. This food ration provides 338 kilocalories and 67 percent of the recommended daily allowance of micronutrients.
The BEHTRUWC project is run by the Government of Bangladesh supported by Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency (SIDA), Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and UNICEF. The project establishes learning centers in urban areas that have large populations of working children. The school day is shortened to two and half hours, so that children can continue to work on either side of their classes.
For more information, please contact:
Government of the Peoples' Republic of Bangladesh