Students of the Caur Basic School enjoy their meal made from WFP food. WFP/Wilson Gama
In Guinea-Bissau WFP continues to provide school meals under a collaborative program with UNICEF to continue class-like activities during the summer months.
For many children, summer represents a respite from months of math problems and memorization. It is a time for fun and discovering outside the classroom.
But in Guinea-Bissau, children understand better that going to school is not always a guaranteed right, as it should be. Following a coup d’état in early April and thereafter a series of teachers’ strikes, school was suspended for months. An outlet for children’s curiosity was lost, even though students’ desire to learn did not wane.
In response, WFP and UNICEF have collaborated to extend school activities during July and August – what would usually be summer months.
This innovative program is being implemented in over 380 schools in 7 regions of the country. Nine NGOs and FAO have facilitated or been involved in leading the extracurricular activities, which closely resemble classes during the regular school year. Topics of the extracurricular activities include: environmental issues, water and sanitation, nutrition, peace and consensus-building, human rights, and agriculture.
“The extracurricular activities have been very important towards completing the 2011/2012 school curriculum,” said Enfamara Nanqui, School Director of Bijine School in eastern Guinea-Bissau that has over 500 students.
Under the program, UNICEF supports the academic component of the extracurricular activities, providing supplies to students. WFP has been involved not only in the conception stages of the program, but is also delivering the equivalent of school meals during the year to the participating schools.
In addition, WFP and FAO have been providing seeds and agricultural tools to establish community school gardens. Students take on leadership roles and assume responsibility in helping to maintain the school gardens.
“With the valuable support of Japan and Brazil, 158 MT of food, comprising rice, beans, corn soya blend, vegetable oil and sugar, have been distributed for the implementation of this activity, providing meals to more than 87,000 children,” said WFP Country Director Pedro M. Figueiredo.
“WFP’s food distribution will contribute to increased food security for the children and some vulnerable rural households,” added Figueiredo.
Binto Cassam, a 17 year old student in Grade 5 at Bijine School, is partaking in the summer extracurricular activities and eats WFP school meals.
“These activities are contributing to our education by teaching us many different topics,” said Cassam. “I really enjoy my tasty meal at school.”