Thumbs up for school-feed­ing pol­icy

Lesotho Times - - News -

ED­U­CA­TION and Train­ing Min­is­ter, ‘ Mak­a­belo Mosothoane, says the de­vel­op­ment of a Na­tional School Feed­ing Pol­icy en­dorsed by var­i­ous stake­hold­ers last week, would en­sure the in­volve­ment of all role-play­ers key to the im­ple­men­ta­tion of a sus­tain­able school-feed­ing pro­gramme.

Apart from the pol­icy, the gov­ern­ment has just signed a Mem­o­ran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing (MOU) with the United Na­tions World Food Pro­gramme (WFP) for the hu­man­i­tar­ian or­gan­i­sa­tion to tem­po­rar­ily takeover the im­ple­men­ta­tion and man­age­ment of the en­tire schoolfeed­ing pro­gramme from 2015 to 2017.

In an in­ter­view this week, Ms Mosothoane said the tasks un­der­taken by both the WFP and her min­istry were of great im­por­tance as they sought to “in­vig­o­rate” the pro­gramme amid the var­i­ous chal­lenges it has faced since its es­tab­lish­ment in 1961.

The min­is­ter noted un­der the MOU, the gov­ern­ment would fully fund the feed­ing of 400 000 pupils through­out the coun­try in a tran­si­tion set to also see WFP de­velop the ca­pac­ity of the min­istry in prepa­ra­tion for its takeover in 2018.

How­ever, Ms Mosothoane ex­plained both her min­istry and WFP were work­ing to­gether to achieve a “home-grown” na­tional school-feed­ing pro­gramme that would fa­cil­i­tate the in­volve­ment of var­i­ous stake­hold­ers such as lo­cal small­holder farm­ers.

“Our po­si­tion is that we need to blend the school-feed­ing pro­gramme with lo­cal pur­chase from small­holder farm­ers. I be­lieve this will en­hance a mu­tual re­la­tion­ship be­tween schools, farm­ers, the pri­vate sec­tor and other stake­hold­ers. We would like lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties to own the pro­gramme,” Ms Mosothoane said.

She fur­ther said over the years and in part­ner­ship with WFP, gov­ern­ment, through her min­istry, had recog­nised school-feed­ing as an in­vest­ment and not an ex­pen- sive ex­er­cise.

“We are aware of our core re­spon­si­bil­ity to care for the chil­dren while they are at school, as stip­u­lated in the UN Rights of the Child un­der Ar­ti­cle Four on the Pro­tec­tion of Rights.

“As gov­ern­ment, we are re­quired to cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment where chil­dren can learn, grow healthy and reach their full po­ten­tial,” the min­is­ter said.

Ms Mosothoane fur­ther noted it was also the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the gov­ern­ment to “ef­fec­tively and sus- tain­ably” ad­dress chal­lenges re­lated to mal­nu­tri­tion in or­der to help im­prove cog­ni­tive ca­pac­i­ties beyond the first 1000 days (from the start of a woman’s preg­nancy to the child’s sec­ond birth­day, also known as the win­dow of op­por­tu­nity).

The min­is­ter also ex­plained the pol­icy had in­ter­ro­gated ways on how to en­hance the na­tional schoolfeed­ing pro­gramme, ad­dress nu­tri­tional chal­lenges, im­prove school attendance and pass rates.

“In other words, the well­be­ing of the chil­dren is at the heart of the school-feed­ing pol­icy. The as­pect of pro­vid­ing nu­tri­tious food to the chil­dren each school-day is an im­por­tant one, more so in the midst of in­creas­ing lev­els of obe­sity, with its as­so­ci­ated health-re­lated com­pli­ca­tions and un­der-nu­tri­tion.”

Ms Mosothoane also said the dec­la­ra­tion of 2014 as a year for ‘Fam­ily Farm­ing’ by the United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly was due to the recog­ni­tion of the im­por­tant role of fam­ily farm­ing in school-feed­ing and its con­tri­bu­tion in the fight against hunger, mal­nu­tri­tion and poverty.

“This also in­spired the min­istry and WFP to seize this mo­men­tum and op­por­tu­nity to take a new pol­icy di­rec­tion that con­nects nu­tri­tion, agri­cul­ture, ed­u­ca­tion de­vel­op­ment, cre­ate new part­ner­ships and sus­tain­able eco­nomic growth.”

The min­is­ter stated her re­cent visit to the Cen­tre for Ex­cel­lence Against Hunger in Brazil made her re­alise that a suc­cess­ful schoolfeed­ing pro­gramme adopts a mul­ti­sec­toral ap­proach with other gov­ern­ment min­istries, civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions, the pri­vate sec­tor and lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties work­ing to­gether for the good of the child.

“I am grate­ful to WFP for its com­mit­ment to sup­port­ing the min­istry dur­ing the school-feed­ing tran­si­tion.

“I have no doubt that they will con­tinue sup­port­ing us even after we take-over the pro­gramme in 2018,” said Ms Mosothoane.

–– Wfp-le­sotho

un­der the WFP Mou, the gov­ern­ment would fully fund the feed­ing of 400 000 pupils through­out the coun­try.

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