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Stories from the Field

Supporting Dalefasoa’s Education in Madagascar Starts With a Meal

By Hannah Payne on June 16, 2022

258 million children around the world are unable to enroll in school, and UNICEF reported in 2021 that nearly 40% of school-aged children in Eastern and Southern Africa weren’t attending school. Information like this underscores the importance of International Day of the African Child. Recognized annually on June 16, this holiday commemorates the Soweto Uprising in 1976 when thousands of black school children in Soweto, South Africa, protested for their right to quality education. 

International Day of the African Child now raises awareness of the need to improve education — and access to it — for all African children. Education plays an important role in food security. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #4 of quality education is interwoven with all of the Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal #2 of zero hunger, for achieving a sustainable and equitable future. 

Rise Against Hunger is dedicated to increasing access to education through school feeding programs. School feeding programs encourage school attendance and improve attentiveness and performance — all of which 14-year-old Dalefasoa and her father have witnessed firsthand. 

Dalefasoa lives in a small village in southern Madagascar’s Ampanihy Ouest district. She and one of her five sisters are the only children in their family to attend school. But during a drought last year, Dalefasoa missed a lot of school to assist with farming and chores. Southern Madagascar already faced high rates of chronic malnutrition, and the drought exacerbated food insecurity for many families in the district, including Dalefasoa’s. She would journey with her siblings to another village to collect food for their family as part of a food distribution program there. 

Her father, Tsangamana, knew his daughter’s education was important and, therefore, didn’t want her to continue needing to venture to another community for food. Therefore, in March 2021, he volunteered to be the president of the School Feeding Committee for the local school. 

Rise Against Hunger partners with Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) on the Southern Africa School Feeding Initiative to increase access to food in schools and improve educational performance in the communities served. Through this initiative, ADRA operates school feeding to support 103 schools in Madagascar’s Ampanihy Ouest district. Rise Against Hunger supports the school feeding by providing ADRA Madagascar with cash grants for local procurement of food. 

By taking on the School Feeding Committee role for Dalefasoa’s school, her father ensures all of the students are fed through the school canteen. Aurélie, the project coordinator, explained that the students eat twice a day and the meals encourage parents to send their children to school. 

In Madagascar, only one in three children complete primary education — but school feeding programs can help change that. Through the Southern Africa School Feeding Initiative, school attendance rates have increased and rates of malnutrition have decreased. And now that Dalefasoa no longer has to go to another village for food, she is focused on obtaining her diploma to become a teacher, which will help even more children complete their education in the future.

It starts with a meal, and it leads to education and the opportunity for bright futures. In honor of International Day of the African Child, give today to support education for children — like Dalefasoa — in Africa and around the world.