School milk plays a role improving enrolment and decreasing drop-out rates among refugee school children in both Syria and Lebanon. The school milk programmes aim to improve schooling for refugee children, in a situation where few have access to nutritious food. The school feeding programmes also attract more refugee children to attend school. Initial results from the programme show improvements in the children’s access to education, learning outcomes, health and well-being. The percentage of students missing school decreased from 8.4 per cent to 4.9 per cent. There was also a noted decrease in overweight prevalence among children.
The crisis in Syria has led to millions being displaced in Syria and in neighbouring countries. Over 40 per cent of 1.7 million registered school-age Syrian refugee children are not attending school. Retention rates are alarming; less than half of the children who start primary school complete it. Among refugee children, only two per cent attend secondary school.
”This, combined with reduced dropout rates, proves how the provision of a daily nutritious snack and milk can be for children to support their learning.”
The World Food Programme (WFP) was assigned to implement the Syria School Milk Programme. In a recent position paper, the WFP has acknowledged, safely produced and packaged UHT milk as an important source of vitamins, minerals and protein for distribution to older children in schools. Tetra Pak customers Glanbia in Ireland, Lactogal in Portugal and ILAS in Spain, supply milk in Tetra Brik® Aseptic 200 ml packages. The goal is to provide 350,000 children in Syria with UHT milk as part of a support package from European farmers. The European Union is funding the programme with €30 million. In Lebanon, Tetra Pak customer LibanLait is supplying locally produced UHT milk to Lebanese schools in two programmes: WFP in collaboration with the Lebanese Ministry of Education and the NGO Theirworld.
“Theirworld’s breakfast snack programme is underpinned by a robust research model, and we can see improvements in students’ diet diversity from previous years,” says Kimberley Green, Project Manager Safe Schools. “This, combined with reduced dropout rates, proves how the provision of a daily nutritious snack and milk can be for children to support their learning. We thank Tetra Pak for their continued support of Theirworld’s work to ensure all children have the best start in life.”