By T. Saye Goinleh
The United Nations Food Agency, (WFP), the Ministry of Education and partners on Friday, June 1, 2018 celebrated Africa Day of School Feeding in Monrovia with a parade through the principal streets of Monrovia and an indoor program at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion on Ashmun Street.
The event which brought together government officials, officials of UN agencies, students from various schools and other development partners highlighted the relevance of school meals in the education of the African children as well as the importance of home-grown food school feeding to enhance food security.
Serving as keynote speaker, Deputy Agriculture Minister for Planning, Research and Extension, Cllr. Cyrenus Cephus lauded WFP and the Ministry of Education along with their partners for organizing the program and proposed the establishment of a “School Garden’’ programs all over Liberia, something he believes will enable schools to have their own grown food.
Deputy Minister Cephus said with the help of school feeding across Liberia, many parents are relieved because they no longer have to wake their children up early morning to prepare them for school as they themselves are willing to get up sooner. He noted that if the program continues especially in the rural parts, school enrollment will increase.
In remarks, Assistant Education Minister For Students And Personnel Services, Othello W.Nimely said African School Feeding Day is a day set aside by African heads of states and governments during the 26th summit of the African Union in January 2016 in support of school feeding and chose June 1 of each year to be celebrated across the continent of Africa.
Assistant Minister Nimely mentioned that in recent years, home-grown school feeding has been the focus of the program across African including Liberia. He said African countries and the African Union have already adopted policies in favor of home-grown school feeding in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Nimely noted that the program has been a key tool in realizing the effort to encourage every child to keep in the classrooms as many students are happy and encouraged to be school mainly the younger ones.
According to him, the school feeding initiative is being mainly supported by the World Food Program and Mary’s Meals International has had a significant impact on enrolment, retention and attendance as well as reducing dropout rates among school age children across Liberia.
Additionally, Nimely noted that Mary Meals international has helped by directly reducing short-term hunger among children and serves as vehicle for meeting their nutritional requirements and at the same time closing the gender gap between boys’ and girls’ enrollment.