In Senegal, school meals provide a boost to student education in times of crisis

Read how school meals are encouraging school attendance and even improving the quality of student learning in times of crisis in Senegal.

September 27, 2021 by GPE Secretariat
3 minutes read
Students eating at Nguekhokh school canteen in Senegal. Credit: World Food Program (WFP)
Students eating at Nguekhokh school canteen in Senegal.
Credit: World Food Program (WFP)

As part of its COVID-19 pandemic response plan, Senegal’s Ministry of National Education launched a school feeding program in March 2021 with CFAF 552 million (close to US$1 million) in GPE funding and operational support from the World Food Program (WFP).

This emergency response, which is in line with the Presidential School Feeding Program, is aimed at mitigating the effects of the health crisis on student education, ensuring the continuity of education services, and encouraging vulnerable students to attend school and achieve academic success.

School meals to encourage students to attend school

The role of school meals in encouraging school attendance and even improving the quality of student learning is widely recognized.

The program sets up meal services in public schools in the most disadvantaged rural and periurban areas hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The aim is to mitigate the health and socioeconomic impact of the pandemic on students and their families and encourage the most vulnerable students to attend school and achieve academic success, as schools reopened during the 2020-2021 academic year.

Close to 107,000 students in 637 primary schools across 23 Education and Training Inspectorates in the Diourbel, Kaolack, Kolda, Saint-Louis, Sédhiou, Thiès and Ziguinchor regions are benefiting from the program.

A total of 8.5 million meals will be provided to students during the 10-month project period.

The initiative targets elementary schools, pre-primary schools, and public Koranic schools (daaras) in the rural areas of the regions/departments facing food insecurity and malnutrition and where the school indicators (gross enrollment rates and primary completion rates) are lowest.

The program’s beneficiary regions were selected based on three vulnerability indicators: the number of COVID-19 cases reported, the school dropout rate, and the level of food insecurity and acute malnutrition observed among students.

Selection of schools participating in the program

Schools are selected based on a number of minimum criteria jointly identified with the Ministry of Education, such as the existence of an operational management committee, acceptable hygiene standards (a water source, bathrooms, etc.), and the grouping of nearby villages into a larger unit.

The WFP is also seeking to build the synergies needed, so as to ensure complementarity in the work done with the partners.

The provision of school meals will be supplemented by various initiatives aimed at strengthening the technical skills of the partners with the aim of better management and greater ownership of the school feeding program.

Women carrying food to students from the kitchen to the school canteen.
Women carrying food to students from the kitchen to the school canteen.

At the local level, school management committee members, cooks and merchants will benefit from sessions related to hygiene, nutrition, storage and the supervision of school feeding activities.

In addition, school management committees are encouraged to be proactive and to fully integrate themselves into the process, so that communities can gradually assume responsibility for the management of canteens.

Capitalizing on the program with the aim of better sector planning

At the national level, it is expected that the WFP will continue to train the centralized and decentralized entities of the Ministry of National Education with a view to the development, launch, and management of a national school feeding program, based on local production, in disadvantaged rural and periurban areas.

The WFP is also organizing the tracking of quantitative and qualitative data, either by telephone or during field missions. Questionnaires are given to school principals and managers of school canteens so as to gauge, among other things, attendance and dropout rates, the operation of canteens, food storage, and the use of electronic transfers.

Registers will be provided to all schools to facilitate food and attendance record keeping and to collect the relevant observations made in the field.

Plans have been made to provide a toll-free number, managed by the WFP teams, to allow the different stakeholders (education partners, parents of students, and other members of the community) to anonymously and confidentially address complaints or requests for information related to the assistance provided.

This project is part of a total of close to CFAF 3.8 billion (US$7 million) in funding provided by GPE to Senegal in July 2020 to support its response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the education system, with the Agence française de développement (AFD) serving as the grant agent.

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Very interesting read. Excellent work in progress.

Just one request, please. Can I have data reflecting the impact of such incentive on girls students and the response from parents and community? Any strategy to ensure the learners' transition from primary to secondary education?


To increase the population of girls that must be in school is to design strategies such as removing girls who are selling on the streets, those girls who are prostituting on the streets , those girls who are doing child labor and etc. Must be placed in a suitable environment and placing them in a school from which they will receive quality, equal and standard education. There must be counselors available to counsel them also. All civil Societies within these countries must be empowered to assist in this process.

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