School-feed­ing un­der spot­light

Lesotho Times - - News - Lim­pho Sello

World Food Pro­gramme (WFP) Coun­try di­rec­tor Mary Njoroge says the Govern­ment of le­sotho has shown great com­mit­ment to­wards en­sur­ing the dream of pro­vid­ing free and com­pul­sory pri­mary education and free school meals is achieved.

Ms Njoroge was speak­ing dur­ing the Africa day of School Feed­ing launch at Masianokeng Pri­mary School on Tues­day.

She ex­plained pro­vid­ing food in schools is a wise in­vest­ment for a bet­ter to­mor­row as this helps learn­ers from food-in­se­cure fam­i­lies to at­tend classes.

The Africa day of School Feed­ing was launched in the re­pub­lic of Niger on 1 March 2016, un­der the theme: ‘Home­grown School Feed­ing, a Con­duit for Africa’s Sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment’.

Ms Njoroge said: “We should all in­vest in a to­mor­row that will see our chil­dren hav­ing the ca­pac­ity to break the in­ter­gen­er­a­tional cy­cle of poverty, con­tinue de­vel­op­ing le­sotho and live health­ier and ful­fill­ing lives.”

In le­sotho, WFP be­gan pro­vid­ing food in schools in 1965 be­fore the govern­ment started grad­u­ally tak­ing over the pro­gramme in the 1990s.

Ms Njoroge noted govern­ment was now fully fund­ing the pro­gramme and strongly be­lieves le­sotho has a lot to share with other African na­tions as far as school-feed­ing is con­cerned.

“The Govern­ment of le­sotho has, in­deed, taken a stand against hunger and mal­nu­tri­tion in pri­mary schools to grow an ed­u­cated so­ci­ety. For some coun­tries that would like to know more about schoolfeed­ing, I rec­om­mend Le­sotho as an ex­cel­lent case study,” said Ms Njoroge.

She thanked the govern­ment for tak­ing own­er­ship of the pro­gramme and demon­strat­ing the will­ing­ness to learn more on how to sus­tain­ably man­age the school-feed­ing scheme.

“I would also like to es­pe­cially thank the Min­istry of Education and Train­ing which works closely with WFP on a day-to-day ba­sis. We value and cher­ish this great part­ner­ship. May it live long for fur­ther de­vel­op­ment of school-feed­ing and con­tin­ued im­prove­ment in the qual­ity of education.”

Cur­rently, govern­ment and WFP are pro­vid­ing two meals per day to 400 000 stu­dents in pub­lic pri­mary schools and 50 000 stu­dents in preschools through­out the coun­try.

Mean­while, dur­ing Tues­day’s cer­e­mony, WFP handed over three ve­hi­cles to the Min­istry of Education that will help to en­hance in­spec­tions of the pro­gramme in schools through­out the coun­try.

Education and Train­ing Min­is­ter dr Ma­hali Phamotse said the cars were go­ing to com­ple­ment one ve­hi­cle that was be­ing used to drive in­spec­tors to dif­fer­ent schools.

“You can imag­ine how dif­fi­cult it has been for our of­fi­cers to reg­u­larly mon­i­tor the pro­gramme coun­try­wide. It is lit­tle won­der that my of­fice is of­ten in­un­dated with com­plaints from cater­ers, cooks and schools them­selves about in­ef­fi­cien­cies in the food lo­gis­tics and pay­ment pro­cesses,” Dr Phamotse said.

The Min­is­ter said she hoped an im­prove­ment in mon­i­tor­ing would help ad­dress chal­lenges ex­pe­ri­enced in some schools.

“I would like to fur­ther as­sure WFP that th­ese ve­hi­cles will be used for their in­tended pur­poses and help im­prove the school-feed­ing pro­gramme,” she said.

dr Phamotse fur­ther said the school-feed­ing pro­gramme had been a long jour­ney of self­less ser­vice to Ba­sotho chil­dren through the pro­vi­sion of nu­tri­tious meals.

“To­day our coun­try boasts of high lit­er­acy rates be­cause th­ese meals pro­vide the needed im­pe­tus for the chil­dren to at­tend school reg­u­larly. In­deed, it is as a re­sult of this col­lab­o­ra­tion with WFP that le­sotho man­aged to achieve the Mil­len­nium de­vel­op­ment Goal (MDG) 3 on the Uni­ver­sal Ac­cess to Pri­mary Education,” the Min­is­ter said.

“To­day we stand here with our heads high be­cause we now have a pol­icy frame­work in place to guide the im­ple­men­ta­tion of a sus­tain­able school-feed­ing pro­gramme, thanks to both the tech­ni­cal and fi­nan­cial sup­port pro­vided by WFP.”

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