17 Jul 2014 16:20pm
WINDHOEK, 17 JUL (NAMPA) - Discussions are underway within government to introduce the school-feeding programme in Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres across the country, Education Minister David Namwandi says.
He made the announcement in a speech read on his behalf by his Permanent Secretary Alfred Ilukena in the capital on Thursday during the opening of a two-day review meeting on the Namibian School-Feeding Programme (NSFP).
Namwandi said efforts to introduce the programme in ECD centres are supported by the government within the framework of the Fourth National Development Plan (NDP4), which highlights the school-feeding programme as an important vehicle for addressing food insecurity in the country.
He said the challenge of eliminating hunger amongst school-children requires an integrated approach.
That is why the new school-feeding reference manual spells out the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders in ensuring that the benefits of the programme are maximized, he noted.
The minister thus called on other stakeholders to come forward with commitments and actions to increase school enrolments, retention as well as school performance and nutrition.
One such stakeholder is the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS), which could help to integrate nutrition and health education in schools, while the Ministry of Agriculture could support water and sanitation, which are essential aspects of school-feeding hygiene.
Namwandi said the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare also has a role to play by empowering women to serve on school-feeding committees, and to contribute to decision-making processes at school level.
The Ministry of Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, with its strong presence at grassroots level, should also step in to support the establishment and improvement of school- feeding facilities and infrastructure, he added.
We will not achieve the much-anticipated school-feeding objectives without your support. That is why it is of such great importance that we work together on concrete actions which can make a major difference towards the education and nutrition outcomes for learners, he stated.
The NSFP was launched as a response to the growing needs of school-learners who were affected by a series of droughts in the 90s.
Today, it provides a nutritious mid-morning meal to more than 320 000 primary school-learners in rural and peri-urban areas.
The MoE procures and distributes more than 6 000 metric tonnes of food per year to more than 1 300 primary schools, of which 75 per cent is locally-sourced.
The NSFP review meeting is being held with partners such as the World Food Programme (WFP) as well as the New Partnership for Africas Development (NEPAD) and the Partnership for Child Development (PCD).
It is aimed at identifying actions and steps to strengthen the NSFP and sharing, discussing and validating preliminary findings from the NSFP baseline survey held in 2012, whilst taking stock of progress made towards achieving the goals of the five-year NSFP Roadmap implemented in 2012.
This meeting ends on Friday.