Examining the Impact of Homegrown School Feeding Program on Literacy Improvement in Rutsiro, District, Rwanda

Doctoral Thesis / Dissertation, 2021

114 Pages, Grade: Doctor of Philosophy



I hereby declare that this thesis is my own work and it has not been, and will not be submitted in whole or in part to another University for the award of any other degree.


Ben Alexandre MPOZEMBIZI (Candidate)


Dr. Dinesh Shukla (1st supervisor)


Dr. Suresh Singh Yadav (2nd supervisor)


I could not have managed and completed a doctorate degree without the support and encouragement of university especially the faculty, family, colleagues and friends. It is in this regard that I express my very sincere thanks to several people: His Excellency Dr.Varun Gupta, for his guidance right from the early stages of the degree programme; Dr. Dinesh Shukla and Dr. Suresh Singh Yadav, for their critical reviews and insightful comments on my thesis; and Jean de Dieu HAVUGIMANA from Smart Education Consultant, for his support in many ways as I was moving towards the completion of this course.

I owe my achievement to my family- wife, sons and daughter, brothers and sisters-who allowed me to devote part of the attention they needed to my studies. Their patience and moral support motivated me to carry on with the studies even when I was under pressure.

My coursemates and friends for their constant encouragement and inspiration. My colleagues in the Ministry of Education, WFP, Garden for Health International and World Vision Rwanda whose support was enormous, especially in the collection and processing the survey data.

I am mostly indebted to Onsky Global through Smart Education Consultant for the partial scholarship provided to me without them it would never have been possible for me to attain this doctorate degree.

Finally, I thank all that contributed to this study: the District Education Officers from Rutsiro District; sector Education Inspectors, head teachers and teachers in the sample district, and interview participants, who shared their experiences and insights with me.

May God bless you all.


To my father, Thaddee NTEZIRYEJO and mother, Anathalie NYANGORE, for all their sacrifices and the pride they took in investing in my education right from my childhood.


CFSVA: Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis

CHAI: Clinton Health Access Initiative

CHW: Community Health Workers

CO: Country Office

CSB: corn-soy blend

CVA Citizen Voice and Action

DDP: District Development Plans

DEO: District Education Officers

DEQAS: Decentralized Evaluation Quality Assurance System

DFID: Department for International Development

EDPRS: Economic Development and Poverty Reduction strategy EFA: Education for All

EGRA: Early Grade Reading Assessment

EQAS: Evaluation Quality Assurance System

ESSP: Education sector strategic plan

ESWG: Education sector working group

FAO :Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

FY: Financial Year

GCNF: Global Child Nutrition Foundation GDP: Gross domestic product

GEWE: Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment

GHI: Garden for Health International GoR: Government of Rwanda

HGSF: Home Grown School Feeding

IFAD: the International Fund for Agricultural Development

ILO:International Labour Organization

L3: Literacy, Language and Learning MDG: Millennium Development Goal(s)

MGD: McGovern Dole

MGD: MCGovern-Dole

MINAGRI: Ministry of Agriculture

MINAGRI: Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources

MINALOC: Ministry of Local Affairs

MINEDUC: Ministry of Education MINESANTE: Ministry of Health

MININFRA: Ministry of Infrastructure

MINISANTE: Ministry of Health ( Ministere de la Sante)

NALA : National Adult Literacy agency

NEPAD: New Partnership for Africa’s Development

NGO: Non-Government Organization NISR: National Institute of Statistics Rwanda

NST: National Strategy for Transformation

ODK: Open Data Kit

PCD: Partnership for Child Development

PTA: Parent Teacher Associations

REB: Rwanda Education Board

RPHC: Rwanda Population and Housing Census:

SABER: Systems Approach for Better Education Results

SDGs: Sustainable Development Goals

SEO: Sector Education Officers

UN: United Nations

UNEG: United Nations evaluation Group

UNESCO: United Nations Educational, scientific and cultural organization USAID: United States Agency for International Development

USDA: United States Department of Agriculture VWFA: The Visual Word Form Area

WASAC: Water and Sanitation Corporation

WASH: water, sanitation and hygiene

WCPM: Words Correct Per Minute WFP: World Food Programme WHO: World Health Organization,

WV: World Vision


This thesis explored the impact of Home grown school feeding program which were designed and implemented by WFP with its different partners in Rwanda between 2015 and 2020, with the aim to understand their impact on literacy improvement. Primary education is receiving much attention from governments of all countries and NGOs in recent times. However, poverty and hunger serves as barriers to achieving the Education for All (EFA) policy in Rwanda. To actualize the EFA in Rwanda, there was the introduction of some educational intervention programmes such as the capitation grant and the school feeding. School feeding programmes are safety net programmes as well as educational interventions ensuring that children with poor parents are given at least a meal a day at school. In Home grown school feeding program intervention (Rutsiro, Karongi, Nyaruguru and Nyamagabe districts), students get porridge and food respectively. A recent report on literacy in Rwanda notes, “The design and focus of EGRA and other tests of fluency and comprehension are based on the theory that a minimum level of reading speed is essential to comprehension. The body of research most often used to support EGRA and similar tests holds that to understand a simple passage, given the capacity of short-term memory, students should read a minimum of 45-60 words per minute.’ ”The report also states that in 2o12, a Rwanda National Standards Committee defined third-grade Kinyarwanda reading fluency as 33-47 words correct per minute (WCPM). Therefore, this thesis adopted the qualitative research method to investigate how Home grown school feeding program contributes to literacy improvement in Rutsiro district, Rwanda. As a result, approximately one-third of our research sample (34.9 percent) is reading at or above the WCPM range. Besides this, there are differences in boys’ and girls’ performance at certain ranges of WCPM, with a quarter of the male sample reading no words at all compared to 11.8 percent of females. Girls also outperform boys at the 16-30 WCPM range, but this trend reverses at the highest WCPM range, with nearly a quarter of boys reading 41-56 WCPM but just 13.6 percent of girls. The findings show that students who could read aloud have much better comprehension ratings: 92.6 percent meet or exceed standard compared to 64.8 percent of those with lower oral fluency. The difference is even more marked when comparing the percentages in the exceeds category: 65.6 percent of students who read on their own answered 4-5 comprehension questions correctly compared to 35.9 percent of those who listened to the story. The finding that students perform better on comprehension when they read a passage on their own rather than hear it read to them, underlines the importance of students having physical reading materials. The findings of this research indicated that literacy in pupils has increased in 21 schools of Rutsiro district through Home grown school feeding program.




Rwanda is a nation focused on achieving long-term sustainable development. It is through hard work, qualitative and quantitative education and new strategies, that these goals will be achieved. There are priorities and musts in the journey to an intellectual, cultural and creative future; a future contrary to the country’s historical events, which led to, the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Being educated is to be literate. According to UNESCO (2008), literacy is “the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, compute and use printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society.”

More than 60 per cent of the Rwandan Government’s annual budget is dedicated to the education sector; proof that shows the recognition of its role in developing and harnessing the younger generation.

In December 2009, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, emphasized that, “[...] imperative is the education and enlightenment, at least of a critical mass of Rwandans, so that ignorance will never be the cause of civil strife in this country again.”

Ariel and Will Durant were right when they said, “Education is the transmission of civilization.” Being the most important element which is fundamental to education, literacy should be seen as a significant part of sustainable economic and social transformation that leads to the type of development, we all dream of and wish to have.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which include literacy improvement, are also educationally geared mechanisms.

Some recent reports have criticized the new Rwandan education system. These reports mainly evince the difficulties that most teachers are facing in the teaching and training of students in a new language, themselves not having effectively learnt to read and write. The adaptation to facilitate learner-centred teaching in an unfamiliar language of English, doubles their toil.

In her research report, Pamela Connell (2010) recognizes the power of curriculum in education, calling it “a driver of social change and quality education.” Rwanda’s past education systems failed to recognize the role of curriculum in improving students’ and educators’ reading and writing skills. Evidence of this is in Rwanda’s publishing systems. Poor communication skills build a steeper ladder to climb for higher education students studying in journalism, media and more, especially in writing them (The New Times, October 2011).

One cannot also deny the impact of cultural contexts to the failure of reading and writing in Rwanda. As reading and writing have not been taught in a cultural context, people, especially the young, will never understand and endorse the importance of literacy skills and their practices which are even key to their comprehension. However, it is of great value to understand the importance of reading for writing and vice-versa.

“If students are to make knowledge their own, they must struggle with the details, wrestle with the facts, and rework raw information and dimly understood concepts into language they can communicate to someone else. In short, if students are to learn, they must write,” a National Commission on Writing in the United States noted in its 2006 report.

The Government of Rwanda, together with the private sector, should be urged to use literacy skills’ practices as significant elements to improve the quality of education. Such reforms should start with nursery and lower primary that represent the future of Rwanda. Highlighted also are those literacy skills of effective reading and writing, certain to improve in a cultural context. Hence, partnership of Ministry of Education with the Ministry of Culture would be of great value.

The implementation of a curriculum policy which influences young people to enrich themselves by learning to read with understanding and, write with skill and clarity, would not only be beneficial for themselves and their families, but for the nation of Rwanda. Young people would learn in order to preserve and enhance the record of humanity; to be productive members of a larger community; to be good citizens and good ancestors to those who will follow after them (The New Times, October 2011).

Young people’s literacy skills determine the future of our educational outcome. These are however, also in the hands of today’s parents. Parents, should have a responsibility to send to school, encourage, and to participate and embrace the young generation in order for them to compete in a global learning environment.

In this respect, the Government of Rwanda places a strong emphasis on national policies and programs for poverty reduction, food security and improvements in education and health. The Government of Rwanda’s ‘Vision 2020’ aims ‘to improve socio-economic development through equitable access to quality education’. The EDPRS2 (2013-2018) has a target of 11.5 percent economic growth and the National Social Protection Strategy (2011) prioritizes development of the social protection sector to ensure that, all poor and vulnerable people are guaranteed a minimum income and access to core public services.

The GoR’s Education Sector Strategic Plan (2010-2015) supports the improvement of educational quality. MINEDUC set up the Rwanda Education Board (REB) to achieve this and build the capacities of teachers. The ESSP identifies school feeding as a key component of school health and nutrition, outlining how nutrition will be addressed through the development of school gardening programs, and school feeding programs. In addition, the HGSF policy (2013) sets out to use school feeding to increase access to education, alleviate short-term hunger, improve learning capacity, and improve children’s health and nutrition status among other objectives. The School Health and Nutrition (SHN) policy (2013) states that ‘all Rwandan school children shall achieve their full development potential, by studying in a healthy environment in child-friendly schools’. Its target is that teachers should be trained on school health and nutrition and that students/peer educators should also be trained and sensitized on SHN, and use health clubs in schools to disseminate their knowledge. The main coordination body where education stakeholders including REB, the government’s High Education Council, UN agencies, and NGOs coordinate education policy is the Education Sector Working Group (ESWG), led by MINEDUC. The HGSF Steering Committee is being established to coordinate HGSF.

MINEDUC, Save the Children, and World Vision are implementing Literacy Boost, a proven literacy instruction methodology focused on improving children’s reading abilities. Literacy Boost is currently improving the literacy of 195,000 children in grades 1-3 in 280 primary schools in central Rwanda and will be scaled up using the McGovern-Dole (MGD) resources. MINEDUC also works with USAID’s Literacy, Language, and Learning (L3) project 2012-2016, on improving the quality of education. L3 conducts a range of educational activities.

In order to achieve the MGD strategic goals of improved literacy and increased use of health and dietary practices, WFP has developed a project response in close collaboration with government partners, MINEDUC, MINAGRI, MINISANTE and with proposed sub-recipient WV, that is complementing existing GoR and USG efforts as well as One UN and other donor activities. The project now is supporting and expanding the GoR’s HGSF program by using this program as a vehicle to achieve the MGD education and health objectives through a high quality package of complementary education and health initiatives that address the challenge of low academic achievement in primary schools. Targeting four districts (Rutsiro, Karongi, Nyaruguru and Nyamagabe) with two types of school meals (lunch meal and porridge meal), this project reaches 83,000 children per year in 104 schools and is supporting 31 farmer groups to increase food supply to schools. WV have a strong focus on engagement with communities on literacy. WFP build the capacity of the government at national and district levels and the capacity of schools to fully manage the HGSF program in the long-term. The project was supposed to respond to the above mentioned needs through the activities focused in education and school feeding needs.

Therefore, this work will address the above issues through a selective review of the literature dealing with the impact of Home grown school feeding program on literacy improvement in Rutsiro district as one of the four targeted district in Rwanda.

Specifically, this work will review factors that are likely to influence students’ attendance, attentiveness and quality of Literacy Instruction


In areas of crisis, school feeding programs are a common strategy to improve children’s health, increase students’ school attendance and retention and improve learning. Typically school feeding programs are implemented by NGOs partnering with food-giving organizations like World Food Program and government donors.

Barb Briggs (2008) says that there is much evidence to suggest that school feeding programs increase enrolment and attendance in school, particularly amongst girls. Girls especially benefit from this, as parents may feel there are sufficient income-transfer benefits (meaning the meal/food provided acts as a form of income savings/benefit as they do not have to spend as much on food). Often, girls are not encouraged to attend school due to cultural practices, beliefs about education and they are needed to provide valuable labour and contribute to the household.

After 1994 genocide, primary schools in Rwanda had low attendance of pupils. This has been shown through school attendance registers. Many reasons may be associated with that irregular attendance of learners in Rwandan primary schools: hunger and poverty in families, orphanhood, child-headed households, traumatism of people and children included, some parents ‘imprisonment, delinquency of some pupils due to lack of control and parenting on the side of parents, lack of sufficient teachers, frequent absence of some teachers, low motivation and incompetence of teachers, deterioration of infrastructures, etc.

However, some teachers claim that there is no influence of Home Grown School Feeding program on literacy improvement.

Besides, in some countryside primary schools, high absenteeism and drop out are still persistent despite the school feeding programme whereas schools in town without school feeding program do not have such problem.

Therefore, with such conflicting situation, this study seeks to investigate the real impact of Home Grown School Feeding program on literacy improvement in Rutsiro District, Rwanda.


Many researches have been conducted to this topic but they did not tackle it clearly. Therefore, I cannot confirm that this research is the only one about School feeding program but I found it right to conduct my research on this topic without ignoring the previous researches.

Some people like Jean Marie Robert NDAYISHIMIYE in his thesis “School feeding programme and pupils ‘attendance in selected primary schools in Huye district, Rwanda ” tried to notice some impacts of this programme by only focusing on school feeding in general. His concern was not clearly stated because he generalized school feeding programme whereas for my research will deal with home grown school feeding programme implemented by WFP and its partners which are World Vision and Garden for Health International for better practices of reading impacting literacy rate in Rutsiro district, one of the area of this program implementation.

As far as I am concerned, my contribution will be to show in detail how Home Grown School feeding program led to literacy improvement in Rutsiro district which will be fruitful for all people who will try to read it because it will go in deep what others did not talk about.


1.4.1. General objective

The overall objective of this study is to examine the impact of home grown school feeding program on literacy improvement in Rutsiro district, Rwanda.

1.4.2. Specific objectives

Besides to the general objective of the research, the following are specific objectives:

(i) To identify home grown school feeding program components on which it is implemented.
(ii) To identify roles played by each stakeholder in the implementation of home grown school feeding program.
(iii) To examine the levels of literacy before and after the commencement of the HGSF program.
(iv) To investigate the effects of HGSF program on literacy improvement.


A number of questions reflecting specific objectives need to be responded to in order to explore what is intended to be delivered by HGSF program in ensuring literacy on Rwandan students precisely in Rutsiro district.

These related research questions are:

(i) What are home grown school feeding program components on which it is implemented?
(ii) What are roles played by all HGSF stakeholders is in its implementation?
(iii) What are the levels of literacy before and after the commencement of the HGSF program?
(iv) What are effects of HGSF program on literacy improvement


(i) There is the significant increase in school enrolment and attendance and modest have achieved due HGSF program.
(ii) Literacy rate increases as a number of policies and programmes on the horizon represent opportunities for further promoting the development of early literacy skills and child-friendly literacy environments.


The methodology is mainly based on an integrated approach that includes historical and descriptive aspects. A critical-analytical approach will be adopted to comprehend the findings and the functioning of Home grown school feeding program structures.

Bearing in mind that this study is using a qualitative approach, the research methods and techniques to be used in data collection for this study are those suggested by Gabriellian (1999:190-191). According to him, qualitative research employs a host of techniques for collecting and analysing data. As Punch (cited in Gabriellian, 1999:190-191) observes, three of these techniques are central- observation, questionnaires, interviewing and documentary analysis, that are employed across a variety of disciplines.

Participant observation: This method required that the researcher made observations and kept records of the activity experienced in the actual community context. The benefit of this technique was that patterns and trends could be noted and captured by the researcher. The observation concerned mainly how community representatives are empowered and the effects of that power they own. This implies that, the researcher had to perform the role of recording impact of HGSF program comparing before during and after this program.

Individual interviews: For the sake of consistency and objectivity, different sets of questions will be prepared as interview frameworks for individuals based on whether they were the key informants or role-players in HGSF program.

Use of documentation: A number of documents kept by various ministries, NGOs and local government institutions, will be studied. Those are mostly related to previous studies linked to this topic. Such sources include theories, policies of school feeding, memorandums, books, websites and published data from government’s reports and NGOs.


Home Grown School Feeding Program should be seen as an opportunity to find an alternative, affordable and appropriate approach that will make feeding school children possible so as to enhance academic performance and promote consistent learning in primary schools. It should also improve a child’s growth and development. The findings of the study will be used to provide information to managers or sponsors of the Feeding Programme on effective implementation and management of HGSF program. They may also assist the government and others involved in the feeding programme. Also the study helps to guide parents, teachers and the community on the ways of best practices of hgsf program in primary schools. The study also provides general knowledge on the impacts of HGSF program in primary schools in relation to literacy improvement. The findings may also help the Ministry of Education to improve ways of learning and managing primary schools on basis of HGSF Program in Rutsiro district and Rwanda at large.


Due to limited finance and limited time for this study, the research will be conducted in Rutsiro District in Western Province of Rwanda.This being the case, the findings are not generalizable to all places where HGSF program is implemented. The findings however point out to key issues that can facilitate the implementation of HGSF program in other places.

This study was limited in time scope, geographical scope and content scope.

Geographical scope

Rutsiro District is one of the seven Districts making up the Western Province , located 150 km the capital Kigali. It has a population of 324,654 of which 60% are below 25 years, and a population density of 281 inhabitants per km2 by 2012. This District is made up of 13 administrative Sectors, 62 Cells and 483 villages commonly known as “Imidugudu” covering a surface area of 1157.3 km2.

In the East: From North to South, the limit of the District of Rutsiro leaves the banks of rivers Bihongora and Nyanzo until the limit of Kavumu sector in Ngororero District

In the West: From the South to the North, the limits of Rutsiro District is confused with the border between the Republic of Rwanda and the Democratic republic of Congo. Rutsiro begins from the border with Karongi District and continues up to the border that it shares with Rubavu District on Lake Kivu.

In the South: From the West to the East, the District of Rutsiro shares a border with the Northern limits of Karongi District from the border with the Republic of Rwanda and the Democratic republic of Congo where the Districts of Rutsiro and Karongi meet on Lake Kivu up to where the Districts of Rutsiro, Ngororero and Karongi meet towards the East.

Figure 1.9.: Map of Rutsiro district where HGSF programme is operating

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rutsiro District Time scope

This research was carried out within two years; June 2017 -2019.

Content scope

The research focused mainly on the ongoing impact of Home Grown School Feeding program on literacy improvement in Rutsiro district in Rwanda. As this program date from 2016, the analysis emphasizes facts realized from the beginning up to now.

1.10. Structure and sequence of the study

The structure of this study is as follows: After the introductory chapter that integrates the background and the rationale of the study, the statement of the problem, objectives, the hypothesis, literature review, methods, significance of the study and limitations, chapter two presents the review of literature. It states globally an overview of Home Grown School feeding program by defining key concepts. This chapter highlights Home Grown School feeding program across its international context and across its different forms.

Chapter three provides embodies the techniques and methods that will be used to collect data, to sample from target population and to analyze the data. It consists of the research methodology which includes research design, target population, sample size and sampling procedures, data collection, research instruments, validity and reliability, data collection procedures and data analysis procedure.

Chapter four consists of presentation, analysis and discussion of the research findings; and chapter five gives a summary, conclusion and recommendation of the study.




The concept of literacy cannot be examined in isolation from the wider context of the country in which it is applied. This is because of the wide and complex nature of this construct and its linkage to many social, economic and political aspects of the country. Accordingly, this chapter describes literacy in its wide context, internationally and nationally (the Rwandan context), with a focus on its improvement not forgetting its relationship with home grown schoolfeeding programme.

2.2. Literacy

2.2.1. Meaning

Literacy is popularly understood as an ability to read, write and use numeracy in at least one method of writing, an understanding reflected by mainstream dictionary and handbook definitions.

Starting in the 1980s, however, literacy researchers have maintained that defining literacy as ability apart from any actual event of reading and writing ignores the complex ways reading and writing always happen in a specific context and in tandem with the values associated with that context1. The view that literacy always involves social and cultural elements is reflected in UNESCO's stipulation that literacy is an "ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts2

Modern attention to literacy as a "context-dependent assemblage of social practices reflects the understanding that individuals' reading and writing practices develop and change over the lifespan, as their cultural, political, and historical contexts change.3 For example, in Scotland, literacy has been defined as: "The ability to read, write and use numeracy, to handle information, to express ideas and opinions, to make decisions and solve problems, as family members, workers, citizens and lifelong learners."4

Such expanded definitions have altered long-standing "rule of thumb" measures of literacy, e.g., the ability to read the newspaper, in part because the increasing involvement of computers and other digital technologies in communication necessitates additional skills (e.g. interfacing with web browsers and word processing programs; organizing and altering the configuration of files, etc.). By extension, the expansion of these necessary skill-sets became known, variously, as computer literacy, information literacy, and technological literacy.5 Elsewhere definitions of literacy extend the original notion of "acquired ability" into concepts like "arts literacy," visual literacy (the ability to understand visual forms of communication such as body language, pictures, maps, and video), statistical literacy, critical literacy, media literacy, ecological literacy, disaster literacy, and health literacy.6

2.2.2. History of literacy Origins

According to Wikipedia, literacy emerged with the development of numeracy and computational devices as early as 8000 BCE. Script developed independently at least five times in human history Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Indus civilization, lowland Mesoamerica, and China The earliest forms of written communication originated in Sumer, located in southern Mesopotamia about 3500-3000 BCE. During this era, literacy was "a largely functional matter, propelled by the need to manage the new quantities of information and the new type of governance created by trade and large scale production". Writing systems in Mesopotamia first emerged from a recording system in which people used impressed token markings to manage trade and agricultural production. The token system served as a precursor to early cuneiform writing once people began recording information on clay tablets. Proto-cuneiform texts exhibit not only numerical signs, but also ideograms depicting objects being counted.

Egyptian hieroglyphs emerged from 3300-3100 BCE and depicted royal iconography that emphasized power amongst other elites. The Egyptian hieroglyphic writing system was the first notation system to have phonetic values.

Writing in lowland Mesoamerica was first put into practice by the Olmec and Zapotec civilizations in 900-400 BCE. These civilizations used glyphic writing and bar-and-dot numerical notation systems for purposes related to royal iconography and calendar systems.

The earliest written notations in China date back to the Shang Dynasty in 1200 BCE. These systematic notations were found inscribed on bones and recorded sacrifices made, tributes received, and animals hunted, which were activities of the elite. These oracle-bone inscriptions were the early ancestors of modern Chinese script and contained logosyllabic script and numerals.

Indus script is largely pictorial and has not been deciphered yet. It may or may not include abstract signs. It is thought that they wrote from right to left, and that the script is thought to be logographic. Because it has not been deciphered, linguists disagree on whether it is a complete and independent writing system; however, it is genuinely thought to be an independent writing system that emerged in the Harappa culture.

These examples indicate that early acts of literacy were closely tied to power and chiefly used for management practices, and probably less than 1% of the population was literate, as it was confined to a very small ruling elite. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Literacy) Classical and post-classical literacy

Until recently it was thought that the majority of people were illiterate in ancient times. However, recent work challenges this perception. Anthony DiRenzo asserts that Roman society was "a civilization based on the book and the register", and "no one, either free or slave, could afford to be illiterate".7 Similarly Dupont points out, "The written word was all around them, in both public and private life: laws, calendars, regulations at shrines, and funeral epitaphs were engraved in stone or bronze. The Republic amassed huge archives of reports on every aspect of public life".8 The imperial civilian administration produced masses of documentation used in judicial, fiscal and administrative matters as did the municipalities. The army kept extensive records relating to supply and duty rosters and submitted reports. Merchants, shippers, and landowners (and their personal staffs) especially of the larger enterprises must have been literate.

In the late fourth century the Desert Father Pachomius would expect literacy of a candidate for admission to his monasteries: they shall give him twenty Psalms or two of the Apostles' epistles or some other part of Scripture. And if he is illiterate he shall go at the first, third and sixth hours to someone who can teach and has been appointed for him. He shall stand before him and learn very studiously and with all gratitude. The fundamentals of a syllable, the verbs and nouns shall all be written for him and even if he does not want to he shall be compelled to read.9

In the course of the 4th and 5th century the Churches made efforts to ensure a better clergy in particular among the bishops who were expected to have a classical education, which was the hallmark of a socially acceptable person in higher society (and possession of which allayed the fears of the pagan elite that their cultural inheritance would be destroyed). Even after the remnants of the Western Roman Empire fell in the 470s, literacy continued to be a distinguishing mark of the elite as communications skills were still important in political and Church life (bishops were largely drawn from the senatorial class) in a new cultural synthesis that made "Christianity the Roman religion".10 However, these skills were less needed than previously in the absence of the large imperial administrative apparatus whose middle and top echelons the elite had dominated as if by right. Even so, in pre-modern times it is unlikely that literacy was found in more than about 30-40% of the population. The highest percentage of literacy during the Dark Ages was among the clergy and monks who supplied much of the staff needed to administer the states of western Europe11 12.

Post-Antiquity illiteracy was made much worse by the lack of a suitable writing medium. When the Western Roman Empire collapsed, the import of papyrus to Europe ceased. Since papyrus perishes easily and does not last well in the wetter European climate, parchment was used, which was expensive and accessible only by the Church and the wealthy. Paper was introduced into Europe in Spain in the 11th century. Its use spread north slowly over the next four centuries. Literacy saw a resurgence as a result, and by the 15th century paper had largely replaced parchment except for luxury manuscripts.

The Reformation stressed the importance of literacy and being able to read the Bible. The Protestant countries were the first to attain full literacy; ^Scandinavian countries were fully literate in the early 17th century. The Church demanded literacy as the pre-requisite for marriage in Sweden further propagating full literacy. Modern literacy

Literacy data published by UNESCO displays that since 1950; the adult literacy rate at the world level has increased by 5 percentage points every decade on average, from 55.7 per cent in 1950 to 86.2 per cent in 2015. However, for four decades, the population growth was so rapid that the number of illiterate adults kept increasing, rising from 700 million in 1950 to 878 million in 1990. Since then, the number has fallen markedly to 745 million in 2015, although it remains higher than in 1950 despite decades of universal education policies, literacy interventions and the spread of print material and information and communications technology (ICT). However, these trends have been far from uniform across regions.13 Literacy in Africa

The literacy rates in Africa vary significantly between countries. The registered literacy rate in Libya was 86.1% in 2004 and UNESCO says that literacy rate in the region of Equatorial Guinea is approximately 95%, while the literacy rate is in South Sudan is approximately (27%). Poorer youth in sub-Saharan Africa have fewer educational opportunities to become literate compared with wealthier families. They often must leave school because of being needed at home to farm or care for siblings.14

In sub-Saharan Africa, the rate of literacy has not improved enough to compensate for the effects of demographic growth. As a result, the number of illiterate adults has risen by 27% over the last 20 years, reaching 169 million in 2010.15 Thus, out of the 775 million illiterate adults in the world in 2010, more than one fifth were in sub- Saharan Africa - in other words, 20% of the adult population. The countries with the lowest levels of literacy in the world are also concentrated in this region. These include Niger (28.7%), Burkina Faso (28.7%), Mali (33.4%), Chad (35.4%) and Ethiopia (39%), where adult literacy rates are well below 50%. There are, however, certain exceptions, like Equatorial Guinea, with a literacy rate of 94%.16

2.2.3. Gender disparities Challenges of increasing female literacy

According to 2015 UIS data collected by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, about two-thirds (63%) of the world's illiterate adults are women. This disparity was even starker in previous decades: from 1970 to 2000, the global gender gap in literacy would decrease by roughly 50%.17 In recent years, however, this progress has stagnated, with the remaining gender gap holding almost constant over the last two decades. In general, the gender gap in literacy is not as pronounced as the regional gap; that is, differences between countries in overall literacy are often larger than gender differences within countries. However, the gap between men and women would narrow from 1990 onwards, after the increase of male adult literacy rates at 80 per cent.

Sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the lowest overall literacy rates, also features the widest gender gap: just 52% of adult females are literate, and 68% among adult men. Similar gender disparity persists in two other regions, North Africa (86% adult male literacy, 70% adult female literacy) and South Asia (77% adult male literacy, 58% adult female literacy).18

The 1990 World Conference on Education for All, held in Jomtien, Thailand, would bring attention to the literacy gender gap and prompt many developing countries to prioritize women's literacy.19

In many contexts, female illiteracy co-exists with other aspects of gender inequality. Martha Nussbaum suggests illiterate women are more vulnerable to becoming trapped in an abusive marriage, given that illiteracy limits their employment opportunities and worsens their intrahousehold bargaining position. Moreover, Nussbaum links literacy to the potential for women to effectively communicate and collaborate with one another in order "to participate in a larger movement for political change."20 Gender gap for boys in developed countries

While women and girls comprise the majority of the global illiterate population, in many developed countries a literacy gender gap exists in the opposite direction. Data from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) has consistently indicated the literacy underachievement of boys within member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In view of such findings, many education specialists have recommended changes in classroom practices to better accommodate boys' learning styles, and to remove any gender stereotypes that may create a perception of reading and writing as feminine activities.21

2.2.4. Impact of literacy on human beings’ development impact

Many policy analysts consider literacy rates as a crucial measure of the value of a region's human capital. For example, literate people can be more easily trained than illiterate people, and generally have a higher socioeconomic status;22 thus they enjoy better health and employment prospects. The international community has come to consider literacy as a key facilitator and goal of development.23

In regard to the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the UN in 2015, the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning has declared the "central role of literacy in responding to sustainable development challenges such as health, social equality, economic empowerment and environmental sustainability."24 A majority of prisoners have been found to be illiterate: In Edinburgh prison, winner of the 2010 Libraries Change Lives Award, "the library has become the cornerstone of the prison's literacy strategy" and thus recidivism and reoffending can be reduced, and incarcerated persons can work toward attaining higher socioeconomic status once released.25 Health impact

Print illiteracy generally corresponds with less knowledge about modern hygiene and nutritional practices, an unawareness which can exacerbate a wide range of health issues. Within developing countries in particular, literacy rates also have implications for child mortality; in these contexts, children of literate mothers are 50% more likely to live past age 5 than children of illiterate mothers.26

Public health research has thus increasingly concerned itself with the potential for literacy skills to allow women to more successfully access health care systems, and thereby facilitate gains in child health. For example, a 2014 descriptive research survey project correlates literacy levels with the socioeconomic status of women in Oyo State, Nigeria. The study claims that developing literacy in this area will bring "economic empowerment and will encourage rural women to practice hygiene, which will in turn lead to the reduction of birth and death rates."27 Economic impacts

Literacy can increase job opportunities and access to higher education. In 2009, the National Adult Literacy agency (NALA) in Ireland commissioned a cost benefit analysis of adult literacy training. This concluded that there were economic gains for the individuals, the companies they worked for, and the Exchequer, as well as the economy and the country as a whole—for example, increased GDP. Korotayev and coauthors have revealed a rather significant correlation between the level of literacy in the early 19th century and successful modernization and economic breakthroughs in the late 20th century, as "literate people could be characterized by a greater innovative-activity level, which provides opportunities for modernization, development, and economic growth".28

2.2.5. Rwanda’s literacy rate rises

The fourth Population and Housing Census in Rwanda conducted in August 2012 (2012 RPHC) shows that 68% of Rwandan population aged 15 years and above were literate while they were 64.4% in 2002. A person is qualified as literate if he/she is able to read, write and understand at least one language. In 2012, males were more literate (72%) than females (65%).

Improvement of literacy is a result of increasing number of persons who attend various levels of education in Rwanda, from primary to university. The 2012RPHC observed that the percentage of persons with a secondary education level rose considerably from 6.1% in 2002 to 12.4% in 2012, all domains and both sexes grouped.

In general, the percentage of persons who have never attended the school dropped from 31.9% in 2002 to 18.7% in 2012. The percentage of females who have never attended schools was higher than the one of males who have never attended schools (27.9% against 22.8% respectively) and the percentage of persons with primary education level is higher in rural areas than in urban ones (58.4% against 48.1% respectively).

According to the same census, the percentage of children who had never attended the school was higher among those with disabilities than the one of those without any disability (respectively 27% and 14%). The percentage of children who had left the school was likewise higher among those with disabilities than the one among their colleagues without disability (respectively 9% and 6%). In Rwanda, the official age of primary school is 7-12 years and 13-18 years for the secondary one.

Persons aged 15-59 years are more literate than those aged 60 and above and there is a greater probability to meet person who knows English or French in the first age group of the population than in the second one. Among the category of persons aged 60 years and above, 3.3% knows French against 12.1% of those aged 15-59 years and 15.9% of the first category knows English against only 1.0% in the second one.

There is hope that the literacy will increase in the future considering the fact that almost all children with primary school age, girls and boys, were in schools in 2012. Only 5.1% of females aged 7-18 years and 6.2% of boys with the same age have been declared never attended the school (http://statistics.gov.rw/node/1086).

2.2.6. Literacy promotion efforts

While informal learning within the home can play an important role in literacy development, gains in childhood literacy often occur in primary school settings. Continuing the global expansion of public education is thus a frequent focus of literacy advocates. These kinds of broad improvements in education often require centralized efforts undertaken by national governments; alternatively, local literacy projects implemented by NGOs can play an important role, particularly in rural contexts.29

Funding for both youth and adult literacy programs often comes from large international development organizations. USAID, for example, steered donors like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Global Partnership for Education toward the issue of childhood literacy by developing the Early Grade Reading Assessment.30 Advocacy groups like the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education have frequently called upon international organizations such as UNESCO, the International Labour Organization, the World Health Organization, and the World Bank to prioritize support for adult women's literacy. Efforts to increase adult literacy often encompass other development priorities as well; for example, initiatives in Ethiopia, Morocco, and India have combined adult literacy programs with vocational skills trainings in order to encourage enrollment and address the complex needs of women and other marginalized groups who lack economic opportunity.31

2.2.7. Teaching literacy with Young Children

From the moment child is born, his or her literacy journey begins. Children’s literacy abilities are nurtured through their families and communities. Examples are

- the infant smiling or crying to communicate their needs to a parent
- the toddler forming their first words
- a young child interpreting the symbols around them
- a preschooler singing a song and a parent and child laughing over a story Literacy with School-age Children

As children enter the school system, there is a strong focus on the development of reading and writing skills. Children engage in learning opportunities that have them interacting with many different forms of text, in print and digital forms, using words, visuals and graphics. Students begin to learn

- the rules of language
- how to acquire information, evaluate it, and ethically use it
- how to construct meaning from various kinds of text and
- how to communicate effectively

As students move through the school system, they continue to refine all of their foundational skills as they explore a wider variety of texts and technologies. The vast amounts of information that are available through both print and the Internet and the ability to communicate with wide and varied audiences around the globe have expanded the ways our students read and communicate. Literacy for our students today also means preparing them to be critical and ethical consumers of information (https://education.alberta.ca/literacv-and-numeracv/literacv/evervone/what-is-literacv/?searchMode=3) Where Does Literacy Instruction Take Place?

Literacy development does not take place in just the Language Arts classroom. It is a shared responsibility among all educators. Although specific knowledge and skills are taught primarily in Language Arts, every subject area teacher is responsible for further developing, strengthening and enhancing literacy. Every subject area has its own unique literacy demands. Content area teachers know their subject matter and their programs of study. They are aware of the literacy requirements of their subject and understand that it is through literacy that meaning is made within their subject area content. Students need to be taught how to read different kinds of text, write and express themselves in the formats associated with each subject, and use content-specific vocabulary.

Literacy development occurs not only in school but in every aspect of daily life. We interact with others when we have a conversation. We read maps, advertisements, newspapers, recipes, manuals and websites. We analyze and interpret vast amount of media information. We write poems, songs, reports, blogs, and emails. Literacy opens the door to the world.

Brain areas involved in literacy acquisition

In the following figure, Brain pathways for mirror discrimination learning during literacy acquisition,

Upper: The Visual Word Form Area [VWFA] (in red) presents mirror invariance before alphabetization and mirror discrimination for letters after alphabetization. A key aspect of alphabetization is to set in place the audio-visual mapping known as “phoneme-grapheme correspondence,” whereby elementary sounds of language (i.e., phonemes) are linked to visual representations of them (i.e., graphemes) (Frith, 1986).

Lower: During alphabetization, the VWFA can receive top-down inputs with discriminative information from phonological, gestural (handwriting) and speech production areas and bottom-up inputs from lower level visual areas. All these inputs can help the VWFA to discriminate between mirror representations, thus correctly identifying letters to enable a fluent reading.

FIGURE 2.2.7: Brain areas involved in literacy acquisition

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Source: Pegado F, Nakamura K and Hannagan T - Pegado F, Nakamura K and Hannagan T (2014) How does literacy break mirror invariance in the visual system? Front. Psychol. 5:703. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00703

Critiques of autonomous models of literacy notwithstanding, the belief that reading development is key to literacy remains dominant, at least in the United States, where it is understood as progression of skills that begins with the ability to understand spoken words and decode written words, and that culminates in the deep understanding of text. Reading development involves a range of complex language-underpinnings including awareness of speech sounds (phonology), spelling patterns (orthography), word meaning (semantics), grammar, (syntax) and patterns of word formation (morphology), all of which provide a necessary platform for reading fluency and comprehension. Once these skills are acquired, it is maintained, a reader can attain full language literacy, which includes the abilities to apply to printed material critical analysis, inference and synthesis; to write with accuracy and coherence; and to use information and insights from text as the basis for informed decisions and creative thought.32

For this reason, teaching English literacy in the United States is dominated by a focus on a set of discrete decoding skills. From this perspective, literacy—or, rather, reading—comprises a number of subskills that can be taught to students. These skill sets include phonological awareness, phonics (decoding), fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary. Mastering each of these subskills is necessary for students to become proficient readers.33

From this same perspective, readers of alphabetic languages must understand the alphabetic principle to master basic reading skills. For this purpose a writing system is "alphabetic" if it uses symbols to represent individual language sounds, though the degree of correspondence between letters and sounds varies between alphabetic languages. Syllabic writing systems (such as Japanese kana) use a symbol to represent a single syllable, and logographic writing systems (such as Chinese) use a symbol to represent a morpheme.34


2.3.1. Global understanding of schoolfeeding programme

School feeding programs have been defined by the World Bank as “targeted social safety nets that provide both educational and health benefits to the most vulnerable children, thereby increasing enrollment rates, reducing absenteeism, and improving food security at the household level.” School meals have been shown to increase the nutritional status of school-age children in a variety of ways. School feeding programs have the capacity to increase gender equity in access to education, which allows for gender equity across all spheres of social and economic life. School feeding programs reduce the costs of sending girls to school and allow for an increased number of girls to be sent to school by their families. Furthermore, improvements in female literacy that come from increased education have been linked to declining rates of fertility, increased economic opportunities, and other markers of female empowerment (https://riseagainsthungerphilippines.org/school-feeding-program/).

According to Bhekisisa, centre for health journalism, Studies show that feeding programmes at schools not only reduce stunting, but also combat obesity and lead to increased enrolment in schools. Every dollar invested in school feeding programmes “pays off four times in the form of economic advantages”, according to the World Food Programme. The global investment in school feeding programmes is $75-billion a year.

Therefore, the results are starting to pay off in Africa, with several studies having found that school feeding schemes increase children’s health and their attendance at school. A 2015 study by the Centre for Social Development in Africa at the University of Johannesburg found that children between the ages of four and 14 who received food at school had lower rates of being underweight and wasting than those who didn’t.

Another study, which was conducted in the Lady Frere district in the Eastern Cape, compared the health of children in schools receiving lunch under the government’s national school nutrition programme with that of children in schools receiving lunch and a breakfast provided by the Tiger Brands Foundation. According to the study, 13% of children in South Africa are stunted as a result of malnutrition. Stunting was significantly lower among children who had access to school feeding programmes: 9% of those who received one meal a day were stunted, but only 6.5% of those who received both breakfast and lunch were stunted.

Study authors also found that pupils “at the schools receiving both nutritional interventions [breakfast and lunch] were significantly less likely than those receiving only the [lunch] to be overweight or obese” ( https://bhekisisa.org/article/2016-03-07-school-feeding-schemes-help-to-grow-young-minds/)

In addition to the mentioned impact of School feeding programme, “Malnutrition directly impinges on the development of a child’s active learning capacity so that they function at reduced levels of intellectual development and academic achievement,” says Irene Labuschagne, a dietician from the University of Stellenbosch’s Nutrition Information Centre. “Malnutrition in early childhood has serious, long-term consequences because it impedes motor, sensory, cognitive, social and emotional development.”

In 2009, the World Bank conducted a study that assessed the effect of two school feeding schemes on the health and education of children from low-income households in northern rural Burkina Faso.

One feeding programme provided children with lunch every school day and another with take-home rations of 10kg of cereal flour to girls each month, “conditional on [a] 90% attendance rate”. Both programmes increased girls’ enrolment in school by 5% to 6% after one academic year.


1 "Adult literacy rates, 2015 or most recent observation". Our World in Data. Retrieved 15 February 2020.

2 A UNESCO. (2006) Education for All: A Global Monitoring Report. Chapter 6: "Understandings of Literacy." p. 147-159., emphasis added. http://www.unesco.org/education/GMR2006/full/chapt6_eng.pdf

3 Bazerman, Charles, et al., eds. (2018). The Lifespan Development of Writing. Urbana, IL: NCTE. ISBN 978-0-8141-2816-9.

4 44 "Adult Literacy and Numeracy in Scotland" (PDF). Scottish Government. 2001.

5 Kress, Gunther R. (2003). Literacy in the new media age. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-25356-7.

6 Stuart Selber (2004). Multiliteracies for a Digital Age. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. ISBN 978-0-80932551-1.

7 Di Renzo, Anthony (2000). "His master's voice: Tiro and the rise of the roman secretarial class" (PDF). Journal of Technical Writing and Communication. 30 (2): 155-168. doi:10.2190/b4yd-5fp7-1w8d-v3uc. S2CID 153369618.

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9 Pachomius, Rule 139

10 Jas Elsner, Imperial Rome and Christian Triumph, 1998, p. 141, ISBN 0-19-284201-3

11 This connection is pursued in Alan K. Bowman and Greg Woolf, eds., Literacy and Power in the Ancient World, (Cambridge) 1994.

12 "How religion may affect educational attainment: scholarly theories and historical background". Pew Research Centre. Pew Research Centre. Retrieved 28 January 2020.

13 UNESCO (2017). Reading the past, writing the future: Fifty years of promoting literacy (PDF). Paris, UNESCO. pp. 21-23, 26. ISBN 978-92-3-100214-4.

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15 UNESCO, Information bulletin: School and teaching resources in sub-Saharan Africa, 2012, http://www.uis.unesco.org/Education/Documents/ib9-regional-education-africa-2012-en-v5.pdf

16 Thomas P. Ofcansky; LaVerle Berry, eds. (1991). "Literacy". Ethiopia: A Country Study. Washington, D.C.: GPO for the Library of Congress. ISBN 978-0-8444-0739-5.

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18 UNESCO Institute for Statistics (September 2015). "Adult and Youth Literacy"(PDF). UIS Fact Sheet. No. 32. Retrieved 2 May 2016.

19 Wagner, Daniel A., Fatima Tuz Zahra, and Jinsol Lee. (2016). Literacy Development: Global Research and Policy Perspectives. In Childhood and Adolescence: Cross-Cultural Perspectives and Applications. Ed. Uwe P. Gielen and Jaipaul L. Roopnarine. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO. p. 105. ISBN 978-1-4408-3223-9.

20 Nussbaum, Martha C. (1 January 2004). "Women's Education: A Global Challenge". Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. 29 (2): 332-333. doi:10.1086/378571. ISSN 0097-9740.

21 Watson, Anne; Kehler, Michael; Martino, Wayne (1 February 2010). "The Problem of Boys' Literacy Underachievement: Raising Some Questions". Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. 53 (5): 356-361. doi:10.1598/JAAL.53.5.1. ISSN 1936-2706.

22 Phonics. It's Profitable". The Phonics Page. Archived from the original on 21 December 2007. Retrieved 11 December 2007.

23 Rao, Vasudeva; S, B.; Gupta, P. Viswanadha (31 March 2006). "Low Female Literacy: Factors and Strategies". Australian Journal of Adult Learning. 46 (1): 84-95. ISSN 1443-1394.

24 Hanemann, Ulrike (30 November 2014). Transforming Our World: Literacy for Sustainable Development. UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning. p. 7. ISBN 9789282012000.

25 Scott, Kirsty (7 July 2010). "Prison library helps to transform lives". The Guardian.

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28 Korotayev, Andrey; Zinkina, Julia; Bogevolnov, Justislav; Malkov, Artemy (2011). "Global Unconditional Convergence among Larger Economies after 1998?". Journal of Globalization Studies. 2 (2).

29 Wagner, Daniel A., Fatima Tuz Zahra, and Jinsol Lee. (2016). "Literacy Development: Global Research and Policy Perspectives." In Childhood and Adolescence: Cross-Cultural Perspectives and Applications. Ed. Uwe P. Gielen and Jaipaul L. Roopnarine. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO. pp. 103-104. ISBN 978-1-4408-3223-9.

30 Bartlett, Lesley and Julia Frazier (2015). "Literacy and Development." In Routledge Handbook of International Education and Development. Edited by Simon McGrath and Qing Gu. ISBN 1317752236.

31 UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (2013). "Literacy Programmes with a Focus on Women to Reduce Gender Disparities." Hamburg: UIL.

32 Goody, Jack (1987). The Interface Between The Written and the Oral. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, p. 50. ISBN 0-521-33268-0

33 Glossary of Reading Terms - The Cognitive Foundations of Learning to Read: A Framework". Sedl.org. 23 April 2008. Retrieved 23 November 2011.

34 Paul Halsall. "Chinese Cultural Studies: Chinese Logographic Writing". Acc6.its.brooklyn.cuny.edu. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 23 November 2011.

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Examining the Impact of Homegrown School Feeding Program on Literacy Improvement in Rutsiro, District, Rwanda
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Dr. Ben Alexandre Mpozembizi is Rwandan and holds a PhD in Education, and various certificates applied in education domain. He is experienced in community empowerment, learning and development, teacher training, coaching and mentoring, and he conducted a lot of research and already published numerous articles in various journals.
examining, impact, homegrown, literacy, improvement, rwanda, Rutsiro district, schoolfeeding
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Ben Alexandre Mpozembizi (Author), 2021, Examining the Impact of Homegrown School Feeding Program on Literacy Improvement in Rutsiro, District, Rwanda, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1004865


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