Eating well to learn better
Nutrition is a cornerstone of children’s growth, cognitive development, academic performance, and future productivity.
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Twice a month, fifth graders from Kajama Kastro Elementary School in Kamonia gather in the courtyard to talk about nutrition and learn new recipes. In the middle of the group, made up of girls and boys, Keleko Mwamba carefully watches the preparation of a nutritious porridge made from inexpensive local ingredients.
Keleko kept the four-stard porridge recipe at his fingertips. “The first star is the staple ingredients, specifically maize, cassava, and rice. The second star is comprised of animal ingredients. The third star is made up of legumes, and the fourth star is fruits and vegetables”, says the young student.
It is not by chance that Keleko is so interested in the preparation of this rich and balanced porridge. Not too long ago, Keleko was starving, and her grades suffered. “I was tired in class, I had trouble following lectures, and I often fell asleep”, recalls the young girl who suffered from malnutrition.
The case of Keleko is not the exception in this school in the Kasaï province. “Students often abstained from school due to malnutrition and the number had considerably dropped”, recalls Keleko’s teacher. With the support of the British Embassy in DRC, teachers were made aware of nutrition and a school garden was installed.
Since attending cooking demonstrations at school, Keleko has become a true ambassador in her family and her community. “I prepare everything myself at home and I also taught the recipe to my family and my friends.”, ensures Keleko who is also getting better grades at school. “I want to be top of my class and become a doctor”, she concludes.
Thanks to the generous support of the British Embassy in the DRC, UNICEF is implementing a pilot project in Kamonia to improve access to quality education for vulnerable children, especially girls. This project addresses all the issues related to girls’ schooling, through among other things, improving learning conditions and sanitation in schools, improving the quality of education, combating gender-based sexual violence and creating spaces for dialogue and empowerment for women and girls.