'Picturing' nutritional inclusion : using photo voice to explore school feeding schemes with two primary schools in Manzini, Swaziland.
This study explored the experiences of primary school learners regarding inclusion in school feeding schemes, and also investigated the nature of an ideal school feeding scheme. An inclusive school feeding programme is practiced in many countries as a way of strengthening education. The study was conducted in two primary schools in the urban area of Manzini, Swaziland. The participants consisted of twenty-four grade five and six learners. In each school there were six male and six female learners ranging in age from nine to twelve years, who participated in the school feeding scheme. This study was informed by a qualitative, interpretivist paradigm and followed a participatory design named photo voice to allow participants to create meaning to their experiences. The study was guided by the Maslow Theory of Basic Needs & Learning and the Theory of Social Inclusion. The data generated was analysed using a participatory analysis method and Patton’s techniques provided insight into the learners’ experiences of inclusion in the school feeding scheme and also learners’ notion of an ‘ideal’ school feeding scheme (Patton, 2002). The findings indicated that school feeding schemes greatly benefit learners who access them. A school feeding scheme helps to alleviate short term hunger, increases enrolment rates, improves academic performance, improves micronutrient status, reduces absenteeism and late coming, and also improves cognition. However, the research established that there were students who were not going to the school kitchen to access food because of their own preferences and choices; some learners brought lunch boxes from home and some bought food from the market place. The study also found that there were learners who only accessed food when meat stews were served in the school kitchen. The implications for the study are that, school management and stakeholders such as government and parents should work hand in hand to make sure that there is a regular supply of food in the schools so that the feeding schemes can operate without interruption. The study also suggests that that there should be improvement in the school feeding scheme in terms of the menu; school management and learners, in collaboration with a nutritionist, should work together in planning and improving the menu. From the participants’ voices on an ideal feeding scheme, there were suggestions such as: the school engaging in fund raising campaigns and sponsored walks as a way of raising funds for building new kitchen structures with dining halls and also for growing fruits and vegetables in the school garden for the school feeding scheme so that more learners would be attracted to the school feeding scheme. They were clear that the school feeding scheme was of great benefit to learners’ educational and health needs.
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