The World School Milk Day is a rising and popular celebration in the world today. The aim is to teach children the importance of milk in an entertaining way. Children, particularly those attending school, are involved in fun activities that teaches them the benefits of milk and encourages them to include it in their diets. Currently, about 40 countries celebrate this day annually. Nyandira and Tchenzema Primary Schools also used this opportunity to celebrate their School Yoghurt Programs. Pupils sang songs, danced, and acted out plays.
Over 1000 people participated in this celebration and pupils and teachers of Nyandira, Tchenzema and Kibuko Primary Schools, a few parents, as well as local government leaders such as the Tchenzema Ward Education Officer, were present. Kibuko Primary School does not have a milk-feeding program, but they have dairy goats that are kept at the school. They were invited so that they could learn more about the significance of milk to human health, and also to introduce the school milk program idea to them.
The teachers of the three schools, some of the village leaders, plus some parents decided that the event should last for the whole day. This they wanted firstly, because this was the first time they were hearing about such a celebration and secondly, because they are now truly realizing that goat milk has played a significant role in their pupils´ lives, especially in regards to class attendance and pupils´ performance. The headmaster of Tchenzema Primary School for instance suggested that if all pupils are involved in the preparations of the event and attend such a function, it would encourage those who have never purchased yoghurt to remind their parents to start doing so. He went ahead to declare that his aim by the end of the year is to have at least 90%, or if possible even 100%, of his pupils drinking yoghurt every week.
The Headmasters of Tchenzema and Nyandira Primary Schools opened the World School Milk Day celebration. Colleague Ritah explained to the crowd what the day was all about and why we were celebrating while Twawose talked about the school yoghurt program; how, when and why the School Yoghurt Program started and what the status is for the yoghurt consumption. Colleague Solomon continued by showing a case study of another school milk/yoghurt program in the north of Tanzania, which he had visited, and how successful that one was. Finally, the Tchenzema Ward Education Officer further explained the significance of milk to the pupils and introduce to the present parents how easy it can be to provide an extra serving of proteins to their children through the school milk program.
Then, what was for many the highlight of the event started: the student led entertainment. The children had formed groups and each group had their own presentation. Some groups sang songs, others danced while others again acted out shot plays they had made. All the children´s activities related to milk and its importance. Some focused on parents’ reactions when the children came to ask for money to purchase goat yoghurt, while others showed the impact goat yoghurt had had on those drinking it. It was all very entertaining, clearly displayed from the crowd by their applause, screaming, laughing and other gestures. In total, nine groups performed. As a price for best contribution the winning group (from Tchenzema) received one month of yoghurt at school for free, which they will get once a week like the rest of the contributing pupils.
After the entertainment session, the pupils from all the three schools received free yoghurt or boiled fresh milk. You could see the happiness in their eyes when drinking it and one exclaimed how beautiful this day had been due to not only tasting the yoghurt, but since they got to learn more about its importance. To end the ceremony, all guests received free food, as it had been a long day and many had walked very long distances to participate. Everyone seemed cheerful and the teachers promised that they would try to celebrate the World School Milk Day every year in their respective schools so as to emphasize milk´s importance. The majority of the pupils also promised to remind and encourage their parents to purchase yoghurt for them every month. All in all the day was a great success.