School lunches in the Republic of Congo

Panive, Nadia and Berlude are three mothers who volunteer their time preparing tasty dishes for students at the Bernadette Bayonne primary school.

September 16, 2021 by Aurelia Jessica Emmanuella Ickonga, UNICEF Congo
2 minutes read

This blog was previously posted on UNICEF's website in French.

The Bernadette Bayonne primary school in Brazzaville is one of 75 schools in Brazzaville, Pointe Noire, Niari and Lekoumou targeted by the school feeding program funded by the Global Partnership for Education, which launched in mid-April 2021.

The program is geared mainly toward primary schools in the target areas and thus to children in the 6-11 age group.

Instead of the school feeding program targeting 37,532 children as previously planned, the partnership between the WFP and UNICEF, with the participation of the School Feeding Directorate of the Ministry of Pre-primary, Primary, and Secondary Education and Literacy Training, has now expanded the program to cover 58,000 children enrolled in 63 schools selected in the vulnerable areas of the departments hard hit by the pandemic, among them Brazzaville and Pointe Noire, given the high demand for food.

A little girl with her plate in the school’s lunchroom. Credit: UNICEF_2021_DEJONGH
A little girl with her plate in the school’s lunchroom.

Currently, children from 41 schools are receiving these meals on a regular basis.

The remaining children in the other 22 target schools will be covered in the 2021-2022 academic year, with the extension of the agreement between UNICEF and the WFP. This will facilitate a better assessment of the linkages between diet and educational outcomes.

At the Bernadette Bayonne school, all 967 students enrolled are entitled to one meal every day. In addition to the school lunches, handwashing facilities have been made available to children to protect them not only from COVID-19 but also from other diseases linked to poor hand hygiene such as typhoid fever and diarrheal diseases.

Panive, one of the four mothers running the school’s lunchroom, says that “more and more children have been attending school since the introduction of school lunches.”

School lunches are a powerful tool for motivating children, for allowing them to catch up on concepts missed, and for improving educational outcomes.


The Republic of Congo was granted US$7 million by GPE for the 2020-2021 period to support the country in addressing the impact of the pandemic on the education system.

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