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Feeding programme to be expanded

The Namibian School Feeding Programme is considered as one of government’s strategies to address the inequalities in education and expanding educational opportunities for disadvantaged Namibians.
The Ministry of Education in collaboration with various ministries and international bodies such as the World Food Programme (WFP), The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the Partnership for Child Development Organisation this week held the School Feeding Programme Case Study inception workshop.
Speaking at the workshop, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education Alfred Ilukena said  government recognises the potential of the school feeding programme in relieving short term hunger for orphans and vulnerable children as well as contributing to increasing their enrolment, attendance and level of concentration in class.
According to Ilukena, when the Ministry of Education took over the management of the school feeding programme from the World Food Programme in 1996, only 78 000 children were enrolled into the programme.
“Sixteen years later, the programme has evolved into one of the largest national food safety nets programes entirely managed by government,” he said.
The current programme is now reaching over 265 00 orphans and vulnerable school learners, representing over 50% of children attending primary school education.
Ilukena said it is important to recall that the significant steps made by the programme are also the result of a number of national government policies and strategic plans that provided the framework for the implementation of school feeding in the country.
He, however, noted that despite the positive achievements made so far in advancing the programme, there are still some challenges ahead such as meeting the resolutions made at the National Conference on Education last year and expanding the programme.
“This expansion is critical in ensuring that all vulnerable children are facilitated to access education and a nutritious meal at school.”
Some key areas to be investigated by the study are, amongst others, institutional capacity for the implementation of an expanded school feeding programme,quality checks and quality assurance mechanisms in place to ensure that the supplier provide quality products to beneficiary schools.
Speaking at the same workshop, Jennifer Bitonde, the World Food Programme officer in charge said that the planned study will also offer an opportunity to document the historical transition process and the characteristics of the school feeding programme that will serve to provide guidance to other countries implementing school feeding programmes.

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