Headline, October 08 2022/ ''' '' FREE -SCHOOL MEALS- FRET '' '''


 MEALS- FRET '' '''

THE PANDEMIC AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS HAS MADE IT URGENT TO help schoolchildren in the developing countries that are home to 90% of the world's children. 

The World Bank estimates that before the crisis about half of ten-year-olds in such places could not read and understand a simple story, and that share could have risen to two thirds.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT : The biggest void is in poor countries, where fewer than 20% of all primary and secondary pupils may be benefitting from a meal in school, according to a survey carried out by Global Child Nutrition Foundation, an NGO.

Reducing the lifelong burden of malnutrition is not the only good that would come from swiftly extending coverage in these places. Systems that are created to deliver meals often end up also being used to deliver tasty bonuses, such as eye checks and dental checks.

About 390 million schoolchildren benefit from a school-food scheme of some sort, reckons the World Food Programme [WFP], a UN agency. That sum is equal to about half of all children of primary age.

Programmes differ greatly. Brazil, Estonia, Finland and Sweden are among the countries that provide nosh free to all pupils. Lunches in England are free to all children in their first three years of school, only to around 20% of pupils at later stages.

CHINA'S programme feeds around one-quarter of pupils. Rather then sprinkling free meals among the poorest children in every school, as is common in richer countries, it identifies the poorest bits of the countryside and funds meals for everyone who attends the school within them.

INDIA dished up more free meals than anywhere else. Its ''Mid-Day Meal Scheme'' feeds at least 90 million children.

BRAZIL'S programme, which reaches about 40 million, is a distant second. But it is more generous, feeding children as young as six months. At a secondary school in Sobral, a town in Brazil's baking north-east, servers heap mounds of chicken and rice onto metal trays clutched by teenagers.

Pop music echoes around the cafeteria, which is open to the playground. Teachers and pupils eat together, perched on yellow chairs at red tables. The headmaster, Carlos Augusto Pinto de Sousa, says that sharing food encourages respect.

Free school meals can nourish minds as well as bodies, in three ways :

First, in countries where many children are hungry they create an incentive to show up to school. Research from Burkina Faso and Kenya, among other places, shows that providing meals increases attendance where it is low.

Second, adequate food is essential for brain development. This includes essential micronutrients, which can be added to school meals.

Third, children who have been fed find it easier to concentrate, so they learn more when they show up. Emerging evidence finds that school meals can indeed have this effect.

Offering meals makes it less likely that hungry children [or those who have gorged on sugary snacks brought from home] will disrupt lessons. Providing meals is also an important step toward lengthening schooldays, which in much of the world end at lunchtime.

A recent study in Ghana found that providing school meals there pushed up literacy and numeracy scores, and that the improvements for girls were particularly large.

The main obstacle to free lunches is the price - The World Food Programme estimates that supplying them in low-income countries costs about $55 per pupil per year. However, median government spending on education in such places is only about $70 in total for each primary school child.

DISASTERS, like the Floods in Proud Pakistan have often prompted expansions of school-meal programmes. After the financial crisis of 2008, in particular countries all around the world sought to expand them as a way of bolstering social safety-nets.

The closure of classrooms during the pandemic has again drawn attention to schools' role in providing nutrition; in all kinds of places new spending is being mulled.

Research strongly suggests that expanding meal programmes in the poorest countries - where coverage is low and hunger is widespread - could transform the prospects of millions of students.

There is thinner evidence that new splurges in rich countries, such as universal schemes, would have a large positive effect.

FOREIGN AID often helps. But divisions among donors can complicate fundraising, says Donald Bundy of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Donors who support nutrition often prefer to spend on preschoolers.

Those keen to improve education tend to think that paying for food is not part of their job.

The Sadness and Serving of the Latest Global Operational Research on Poverty, Education and the  Present, continues. The World Students Society thanks The Economist.

With respectful dedication to Mankind, Leaders and then Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all prepare and register for Great Global Elections on The World Students Society - the exclusive ownership of every student in the world : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011 :

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