The implementation of school feeding program in a context of fee-free education policy to enhance early childhood learning: a case of two primary schools in Iringa Municipal, Tanzania

Document Type

Conference Paper


Institute for Educational Development, East Africa


Meaningful learning is directly associated with the cognitive ability of a learner. However, cognitive ability is highly influenced by nutritional feeding habits that a learner is daily exposed to. Therefore, this study examined the implementation of the School Feeding Program (SFP) in the context of fee-free education policy to support early childhood learning which makes early childhood education to secondary education free from payment of school fees and any other form of payments and how the policy would affect the availability of meals at school. Two public primary schools were examined in terms of policy framework, source of funding, institutional capacity, design and modality of implementation and involvement of the community. The study employed a qualitative research approach in a case study design which focused on an in-depth exploration of the phenomenon. The data was collected through the use of semi-structured interviews, document analysis, and semi-structured observation. The findings from the study revealed that the existing practices in the implementation of SFP in public primary schools were not in harmony with suggestions from studies for a functional and sustainable SFP. Thus, affecting the predetermined learning outcomes that would result from improved enrollment, attendance and enhanced participation in learning. This missing harmony was escalated by short of explicit directives on proper modalities of mobilizing financial resources from parents, insufficient institutional capacity in terms of infrastructure, parents’ misconceptions of fee-free education policy, inadequate parents’ sensitization on the importance of school feeding programme for the benefit of their children and parents’ reluctance and unwillingness which is based on voluntary participation. The study concluded that the existing practices in the implementation of school feeding programme do not correspond with what studies suggest to have a functional and sustainable SFP thereby failing to guarantee children of a healthy lifestyle and dietary habits that are both nutritionally and cognitively constructive. It is therefore imperative for the government through the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to revisit the guidance on the implementation of the school feeding program and consider giving early childhood its required attention which does not only imply having a pre-school class in each public school but also equally important investing in quality early childhood services including nutrition and SFP.

Publication (Name of Journal)

ICERI2022 Proceedings, IATED