In a drive to help improve and as well strengthen Liberia’s educational system, more practical and sustained initiatives have been rolled out by national government through the Ministry of Education to help address some of the challenges facing the sector.
The move according to an official of the Ministry of Education will help further provide a smooth and conducive learning environment for Liberian students across the Country.
The latest statistics of students’ enrollment across Liberia now shows an impressive increase in the number of students currently in school and are remaining in schools across the fifteen political subdivisions of this Country.
Speaking in an interview Wednesday to reporters, the Director of the School Feeding Program at the Ministry of Education Christian Nyema Howbott, Sr. attributed such increment to the ongoing home grown school feeding program.
The program which is taking place in Fourteen of Liberia’s fifteen counties now see over 300,000 students benefiting both from the public and private institutions of learning.
Mr. Howbott said the School Feeding Program since its pilot phase launch three years ago has seen a drastic reduction of dropouts of students unlike in the past.
” More students are in school and are staying in school”, he added.
He pointed out that the program which is also serving as a motivational boost to the performances of the students also observed high academic excellence amongst the students of Liberia mainly in the rural areas.
Historicizing on the program he uttered that Heads of State and Government of the African Union passed the decision through an Assembly(Assembly/AU/Dec.589(XXVI) in January 2016 acknowledging school feeding contribution to human resources development in Africa, and thereby adding value for the realization of Agenda 2063.
He stressed the importance of the program as the increased in the consumption of locally produced food items; To Promote the innovation of school feeding programs that used locally produced food items from the local farm community (home-grown component of school feeding) the Improvement of the nutritional status, as well as the elimination of under-nutrition of children in Africa by reducing stunting by 10% and underweight by 5% in 2063.
Additionally, he said it helps Promote an enabling environment and building human and institutional capacity.
This year’s celebration according to the MOE official will be held on Friday under the theme:
“INVESTING IN HOME GROWN SCHOOL FEEDING FOR ACHIEVING ZERO HUNGER, SUSTAINING INCLUSIVE EDUCATION FOR ALL INCLUDING REFUGEES AND DISPLACED PERSONS IN AFRICA”.
He told reporters that the government through the Ministry of Education collaborates with partners such as the World Food Programme, Save the Children, ZOA and Mary Meals to provide meals for school children during the course of instruction.
“The provision of meals at school motivates students to attend school regularly, enable them to perform well in their lessons and reduce short term hunger”, noted Kali Kosso, Commodity Coordinator ” LEARN- PROJECT, Save the Children.
Under their school feeding program Mr. Kosso added that they are operating in four Counties: Grand Bassa, Rivercess, Rivergee and Grand Gedeh with about 40,000 students benefiting from the program.
The program both from save the children and the government is also providing take home packages for girls across the Country with the aim of encouraging more girls to go to school and stay in school especially due to their old age past challenges.
Though the government is still using the conventional method of school feeding however, Mr. Howbott indicated that there are plans in the making to graduate from that process soon.
He said through intensive working with Liberian farmers and other partners the proposed sustained school feeding program will become a reality.
On other hand, the two officials promised to do more in their monitoring arms to ensure that food theft and other challenges confronting the smooth operation of the program can be realized.