Catholic Entity in Guinea Bissau Promoting Education Through Trainings on Record Keeping

School administrator Patricio Mendes stands outside the school he oversees in Djam-Ma in Guinea-Bissau’s Bafatá region. Credit: Ricci Shryock for CRS

Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the U.S., is imparting record keeping skills to school administrators and officers of other institutions in Guinea Bissau.

In a January 7 report, CRS officials say that apart from keeping children in school, the four-year training program seeks to keep track of what local community organizations contribute to the children’s daily meals.

“The new program provides a streamlined system for better record keeping and allocation of food. It keeps track of both how much food is distributed and consumed,” CRS officials say in the report.

They add, “Besides improved accounting of the food, better systems will also be in place to record what local community organizations contribute to the children’s daily meals.”

Implemented by CRS and funded by the McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program that is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the program provides training in an effort to promote education and economic performance in the Educative Communities project.


In the report, an administrator of a small rural school in Guinea Bissau’s Catholic Diocese of Bafata who benefited from the training expresses confidence that the meal schedule this year will be different from other years.

“Before the training, we were not sure what quantities of rice we should provide each student every day,” Patricio Mendes says, and adds, “The training session showed us how to better manage the food, taking into account how many students are in the classroom and other information.”

“Before, sometimes the students would get too much rice, sometimes they would get too little rice. We would give the kids different amounts all the time. Now it is better regulated and measured,” Mr. Mendes says.

CRS officials say that the program, which is being realized through a partnership between Caritas Guinea Bissau and Plan International targets about 350 schools in five regions of Guinea Bissau while supporting more than 197, 000 people.

The officials further say in reference to children set to benefit from the programs, “More than 120,000 students will participate in the program, which includes a variety of elements in addition to the training.”

More in Africa

In the report, the Director of a school in Bafata Catholic Diocese says that parents normally contribute locally produced foods such as Okra and Hibiscus and vegetables for the school meals.

Souleymane Dahaba explains that the new record keeping skills given during the training helps to accurately calculate what the community provides for the school.

“When we register how much the community has contributed, they feel ownership over the (program), and this helps the community engage more and encourages more people to send their children to school and the government to recognize the contribution of the community,” Mr. Dahaba says.

Mariama Seide who also benefited from the program says she keeps a large book with intricate columns and rows that she is ready to use when the new school year begins.

Ms. Seide who heads a school meal program says many things have changed within the school system since she underwent the training in February 2021.


“We learned how to use templates, which helps us manage the food and track everyone well. We fill it out morning and afternoon, and it has a positive impact,” she says in the January 7 report.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.