GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- The government of Guyana’s Education Strategic Plan is seeking to achieve the Education for All goals and Millennium Development Goals by 2015. The School Feeding Program (SFP) is a component of Guyana’s Education for All -- Fast Track Initiative (EFA-FTI) program. The program’s objectives include building more community participation in schools and improving children’s human development outcomes, such as student enrollment and attendance, nutritional status and learning outcomes. The program targeted all 138 primary schools in the hinterland regions, which present unique challenges for the provision of services.
The SFP was designed to address challenges confronted by the schools and communities in the hinterland regions, such as food insecurity, limited access to basic services, and high levels of unemployment and underemployment.
The SFP’s design was based on a thorough assessment of school feeding experiences and best practices. The program provided training to communities on how to set up their own community-based school feeding programs. A detailed operational manual with easy-to-use forms and procedures was provided to schools and communities. The essential preparation activities also include public awareness raising and positive collaboration with other agencies.
During the implementation stage, communities prepared and submitted their proposals to be eligible to receive school feeding funding, and selected members of their community to manage the program. Through the Education for All Fast Track Initiative, the Ministry of Education funded some of the startup cost and the operation of the SFP. An impact evaluation was conducted with funding and technical assistance from the World Bank. The unique features of the SFP include:
• A multi-sectoral approach involving the Ministries of Education, Health, Agriculture, and Amerindian Affairs, with each ministry contributing to training communities.
• Partnerships with other organizations such as the European Union-funded Guyana Micro Projects (for building school kitchens), Guyana Water Incorporated, food suppliers and schools, and strategies to empower communities.
• Empowered communities.
The program improved community participation in schools and children’s human development outcomes. Community ownership was a significant factor in the program’s success as it empowered parents and the community to support their children’s nutritional health and education. To date, over 16,625 children are receiving a nutritionally balanced daily meal when they attend school. The impact evaluation conducted found several positive impacts on students’ nutritional status, enrollment, class participation and academic performance.
• Enrollment at the targeted schools increased by 16 percent from 4,442 to 5,173 during 2007-2009.
• Head teachers and class teachers observed increased attendance of students.
• Children benefitting from the SFP grew 0.8 centimeters more compared to children attending schools without the SFP.
• Student participation in classroom activities increased in schools with the SFP.
• The average English test scores for the most severely stunted children increased from 37 to 48 points, while the increase was markedly lower, from 40 to 43, points for students attending schools without SFP.
• In math, students receiving the SFP had average scores 8.1 points higher compared to students without the SFP.
• The test scores for reading, science and social studies for students receiving the SFP were all about 4 points higher compared to students without the SFP.
• Both diet diversity and food frequency scores were enhanced at households with children receiving SFP.
• Purchasing power was stabilized for households with children receiving SFP during food price shocks.
World Bank Group Contribution
Guyana’s Education for All - Fast Track Initiative program was funded by the EFA-FTI Catalytic Trust Fund. The total amount of the grant was US$32.9 million. The School Feeding Program received US$12.7 million, amounting to 39 percent of the total grant. In addition to financial support, the Bank provided technical assistance on issues such as capacity building, training, and impact evaluation.
Guyana’s EFA-FTI Program was part of a global education effort, now known as the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), aimed at improving the quality of primary education and ensuring 100 percent completion of primary school. The GPE is a multilateral partnership comprised of over 50 developing countries, donor Governments, international organizations, the private sector, teachers, and civil society and NGOs. The European Union-funded Guyana Micro Projects assisted the School Feeding Program by building school kitchens at primary schools.
The Guyana EFA-FTI Program was completed on December 31, 2012. The Government is taking a number of actions to help ensure sustainability of the project activities. While budget constraints may affect some EFA-FTI post-program activities, the Government has provided funding to continue the program.
Beneficiaries were primary school children, teachers, communities, and regional education officers in the hinterland areas.