School Canteens in Ivory Coast: Students Share Impact

School canteens in Ivory Coast: Vital for student success, but expansion needed
Ivory Coast school canteens impact: Students in Daloa region share experiences. Successes noted, but challenges remain in expanding food programs.

DALOA, March 9, 2024 – In the Daloa region of Ivory Coast, school canteens are making a significant difference in the lives of thousands of students. However, the reach of these programs remains limited, underscoring the need for further expansion to ensure the educational success and well-being of Ivorian children.

The power of school canteens in Ivory Coast

A delegation from the Government Social Program (Psgouv) and the Directorate of School Canteens of Ivory Coast (DCS) recently visited Daloa. Their mission: to study the successes and challenges of school canteen programs in the region.  The stark contrast between two schools in the Gonaté sub-prefecture was telling.
The Bégafla school group has benefited from a canteen since 2002, providing hot meals for 575 out of 1,387 students. Notably, the program extends beyond the 26 days of rations supported by the government. Generous contributions from the local agricultural group "Wobè Wognon" bolster the program, allowing for a full 120 days of nutritious meals.
The results are compelling.  Jérôme Kouakou Kouakou, director of EPP Bégafla 1, points to a 93% CM2 success rate and strong performance across other grades. Eugénie Nikiéma, a happy CM1 student, explains how the 25 FCFA daily meal makes all the difference in her ability to stay focused.  

School canteens in Ivory Coast: Challenges and opportunities

Sadly, not all students in the region are so fortunate.  At EPP M'Bahiakoffikro, the lack of a canteen has contributed to dropouts. Hunger forces children to prioritize finding food over staying in school. Those who remain, like Prince Kouadio Kouakou, must purchase simple and less nutritionally dense foods  – a scenario repeated countless times across the Ivory Coast.  

The critical role of community support

The positive impact of the Bégafla program highlights the power of community in bolstering school canteens in Ivory Coast. The "Wobè Wognon” cooperative generously provides the school with a significant portion of its harvest. However, as cooperative president Awa Diarrassouba notes, their 30-person group struggles with the high costs of farm inputs while trying to expand its production.

Call to action: Expanding school canteens in Ivory Coast

Théophile Boua Bi Kahou, regional school canteen coordinator, shared the Daloa region's statistics: only 23.88% of the 737 public primary schools have canteens,  impacting a mere 25.53% of students.  The success stories of Bégafla, coupled with the stark realities of other schools, present a strong case for investing in the growth of school canteen programs nationwide.
The efforts in the Daloa region point to a path forward for the Ivory Coast. With targeted government support, increased community involvement, and strategic partnerships, school canteens can become a cornerstone of the education system.  By ensuring access to nutritious meals, a brighter future awaits countless Ivorian children –  a future with greater academic success, improved health, and a stronger nation.

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