García-García, Lidia; Boni Aristazabal, Alejandra; Fernández-Baldor, Álvaro (2017). 'The Capability Approach in the analysis of public policy on School Feeding in El Salvador' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Cape Town 2017.


Since 2013, the El Salvador Ministry of Education's School Feeding and Health Programme (PASE, by its Spanish acronym) is incorporating fresh eggs, fruits and vegetables (MINED, 2015) into the conventional school menu (rice, beans, oil, sugar, milk and fortified drink) through direct purchases from family farmers in the municipalities where this programme is implemented.

The programme started in three municipalities with 5868 students attended of nine schools. In 2016, there are 43339 students in 139 schools of eighteen different communities. Moreover, the budget has been multiplied 13 times (from US$30000 until US$388000) in only four years of implementation, which indicates the government interest to continue betting on this initiative. 

This intervention has required unprecedented inter-institutional coordination among more than 18 public institutions led by the Technical Secretariat for Presidency and Planning, the Ministries of Education, Health and Agriculture, through the National Technical Committee for Strengthening the PASE (FAO 2015; Sosa, 2013).

The aim of this research is to analyse how this programme has been implemented and, through this implementation, if there were an expansion of capabilities, functionings and agency of officials in each institution involved. Obviously, an expansion of capabilities of population such as students and family farmers is increasing at the same time and this fact will also be studied in parallel.

For this, the difference between substantive freedoms (capabilities) and outcomes (achieved functionings) in all the institutions involved is researched (Robeyns, 2005; Boni et al., 2015). The agency is defined as "what a person is free to do and achieve in pursuit of whatever goals or values he or she regards as important” and the agent as "the person acting to seek change" (Sen, 1985). In this case, the role of the responsible official person in each institution for the PASE and its agency will be relevant.

The methodology used is based on literature review and in-depth interviews conducted in January 2017 with officials responsible of the public institutions involved in the process of implementing this public programme.  Workshops and focus groups will be held in July 2017 in El Salvador with policy-makers and participants of the programme at a local level. It is also important to emphasize the participant observation as a fundamental part of this research, since the researcher was directly involved in the initial process of construction of this public policy during the period 2013-2014.

Preliminary results highlight a potential expansion of capabilities of the officials involved related with their understanding of the impacts of school feeding. Moreover, we can observe traces of agency expansion among those officials linked with how they perceive their role in the construction of this programme as public policy and its impact on other ways of policy making. In fact, they admit putting into practice the lessons learned during this programme for the development of other public policies (García-García & Moncayo, 2016).

On one hand, the analysis with this approach will analyse how this policy is implemented and how it could be improved, and on the other hand, it will identify new forms of policy that could be applied in other public programmes. Definitely, this study will serve to evaluate and develop recommendations for the implementation of public policies related to the implementation of school feeding programmes (Robeyns, 2006; Dang, 2014).

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