The Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education in partnership with Plan International (MBSSE) has officially launched the School Feeding Programme in the Western Area Rural District targeting 57,530 additional pupils from 197 pre-primary and primary schools in the district totaling 735,000 pupils benefiting nationwide.
The launching took place yesterday 30th January at the Rural Education Committee Primary School Russell, Western Rural District.
Performing the official launch and delivering her keynote address, Deputy Minister II of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Mamusu Patricia Massaquoi, who managed the School Feeding Programme, said the school feeding started in 2018 with 50,000 pupils and by then implementation was only done in Falaba and Koinadugu by Catholic Relief Service (CRS) complementing government’s effort.
“In 2019, we increased school feeding to 320,000 pupils when we have the World Food Programme (WFP) joining in feeding pupils in Kambia and Pujehun Districts. In 2020 when we had the outbreak of COVID-19, we still increased school feeding to a total of eleven districts feeding a total of 430,000 pupils,” she said.
She said in 2021, the ministry expanded school feeding to all fourteen provincial districts feeding 441,000 pupils, and in 2022 expanded to 630,000 pupils from 90 Chiefdoms in all fourteen districts.
The Country Director of Plan International Sierra Leone, Evariste Sindayigaya, said Plan International works with the MBSSE and other partners to ensure that girls, vulnerable children and children with disabilities access, retain, re-enter and transition to quality and inclusive formal education both at pre-primary, primary and secondary school in an inclusive and safe learning environment.
“We are all here today because the agenda of radical inclusion and comprehensive safety is personal to the institutions that we represent. To the leadership of MBSSE, the Government of Sierra Leone, we say – it is your vision and drive for inclusive quality education that has brought us thus far,” he said.
He said he is excited for the launch of the school feeding in the district, especially when the project is targeting more girls than boys (29,568 girls and 26,448 boys), adding that Plan International provides daily meals to 301,397 in 1,368 pre-school and primary schools in Moyamba, Port Loko, Bombali, Bo, Kailahun and Western Area.
The School Feeding Policy builds on the Government of Sierra Leone’s pioneering Free Quality School Education (FQSE) initiative and pursues the guiding principles of the MBSSE that include universal access to quality and equitable education, radical inclusion, quality teaching and learning and comprehensive safety of all learners.
The policy’s goal is to promote the holistic development of children, local farmers, producers, and the community by ensuring that school feeding is recognized and treated as a sustainable, multi-sectoral investment program that receives support from various factors, including the Government at central and decentralised levels, communities, the private sector, civil society, the Diaspora, and external donors.
The long-term objective of this policy is to ensure that school feeding contributes to the vision, mission, and goals of the Government of Sierra as articulated in the Mid-Term National Development Plan (MTNDP) and the Education Sector Plan (ESP). Procuring and providing locally produced and processed nutritious and healthy school meals to pupils, contributes to education attainment and improvement of children’s nutritional status.