MoE, WFP, Others Celebrate Africa School Feeding Day
By Simeon S. Wiakanty and George Harris
Authorities at the Ministry of Education (MoE) in collaboration with partners, including Mary’s Meal, World Food Program (WFP), the Ministry of Agriculture, African Union (AU), European Union, UN-Save the Children over the weekend celebrated the Africa School Feeding Day (ASFD) in Monrovia.
WFP Country Director Dr. Bienvenu Djossa said that his organization and African governments have collectively fed approximately 14 million children through the School Feeding Program across the continent.
Djossa noted that the program is one of the key instruments to social protection in developing countries, but still has a gap to be filled.
He said it was necessary for Liberia to continue the program, to attract children of school going age to the classroom.
“For Liberia, out of the 1.2 million school children, statistics show that from 2015-2016, only 274,000 children or 23 percent are benefiting from the school feeding program. So we have another 77 percent of them who could actually benefit, but are not,” Djossa said.
He added, “we also know that some 52 percent of school age children in Liberia are not in school and therefore there is the potential for the program to continue attracting children to school, because the drop in school enrollment is so large, and Liberia is probably one of the last countries in terms of [low] school enrollment rate.”
The day-long activities hosted at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion included a street parade, speeches and drama highlighting the importance of African School Feeding.
African Heads of State and Governments during the 26th AU Summit in January 2016 established the ASFD in support of school feeding to be celebrated each year across the continent. This year’s activities was observed on June 1, due to Liberia’s “transitional period.”
Deputy Agriculture Minister for Regional Development, Research and Extension, Sayma Syrenius Cephus, described the program as an occasion that brings feelings of joy and among the student populace, because it has never been observed throughout the country as it is being done today.
Education Minister D. Ansu Sonii underscored the need for the program to take a more inclusive trend to keep students, specifically the smaller ones, in school and maintain their academic attention.
“The issue of school feeding has to take another trend, the trend that involves the educators and the input of the parents, who are also obliged to feed the children, while they are even out of school because they have to eat anyway,” Sonii said.