Primary School Children in Preahreach Akak Mohaesei School
WFP’s Para Hunzai learns about a community in Cambodia’s Kampong Speu province that is contributing its own resources to the local school feeding programme, helping to make it more sustainable and locally-owned.
Preahreach Akak Mohaesei School is situated in the village of Sreh Keo in Kampong Speu province. WFP’s School Feeding Programme, implemented at the school, caters to 1,252 children from ten surrounding food-insecure villages, which experience prolonged lean seasons every year. WFP’s School Feeding Programme in this school is managed by a School Support Committee, comprising of the school director, teachers and local government representatives.
In January 2011, Preahreach Akak Mohaesei School suffered a small setback when WFP was no longer able to provide fish as part of the school breakfast as a result of resource constraints. When the School Support Committee learnt of this, they initiated a resource mobilization campaign going village to village urging parents to contribute what they could to help supplement school breakfasts with much needed vitamins and protein for the schoolchildren.
Within only three days of their campaign, up to 70 percent of the parents came forward to contribute money. On average each parent contributes 500 riel ($0.12 cents) per child per month, equating to more than US$90 a month. In addition, local meat, fish and vegetable sellers from the local market started providing in-kind food contributions worth up to US$165 a month. Some of these local market sellers do not even have children studying in the school but yet they want to support the efforts of WFP and the School Support Committee in what they consider to be a vital community programme.
The community contributions are completely voluntary. When asked how the School Support Committee ensures such sustained contributions, they said “we don’t, the parents send their contributions with their children at the end of each month and the local market-sellers drop off their food to the school on their designated days”.
The committee is well organized and even has a set school breakfast menu for each month. The menu includes rice and yellow split beans from WFP for all 23 school days of the month and is supplemented by in-kind donations from local market-sellers of meat for 14 days, fish for three days and vegetables for 17 days. The school breakfasts for the remaining six school days are complemented with other vegetables and/or eggs and condiments bought by the money donated by parents. Through this arrangement, the committee, with the help of parents and market-sellers, has been managing to provide nutritious meals to all 1,252 students for the last seven months, ensuring the children continue to attend school and receive the food they need to concentrate on their lessons.
The incentive structure behind such voluntary and sustained contributions is straightforward. As Thach Cambou, a 44-year-old single mother explains: “I have three children in the school. Feeding them breakfast for one day costs me at least 3,000 riel ($0.75 cents) in the market. WFP feeds them healthy breakfasts for 23 days in a month, so I am very grateful and willing to contribute, especially as it is only 1,500 riel ($0.37 cents) for my three children for the whole school month”.
Tum Vorn, a 65-year-old grandmother (second from right) explains why she contributes, saying “I went to this same school when it opened after the French left in 1957. I sat in the same classrooms as my grandchildren do now and all I can remember is constant hunger. I don’t want that for my grandchildren, that’s why I help out. WFP gives so much food for their school breakfast, this is the least I can do”.