In Namibia, WFP provides technical support to strengthen government capacity to plan and manage food based safety net programmes including the school feeding programme. WFP supports the Ministry of Education to introduce various tools and procedures to teachers and principals to enable them to run the feeding programme at their schools better.
At Nau-Aib Primary School, 87 school children come running out of their classrooms to the outdoor cooking shelter. They wash their hands, queue up in single line, grab their bowls and are served a helping of maize porridge (or “pap”) by the three volunteer cooks. With bowls full, they join their friends sitting on the ground and enjoy their meal.
We are in Okahandja, less than an hour's drive from the capital city of Windhoek. The town, with a population of only 24,000, has six primary schools, four of which are fortunate to be part of the Namibian School Feeding Programme (NSFP) which is fully funded and managed by the government since 1996 when ownership was transferred from WFP.
Meals don't always run so smoothly
Meals at Nau-Aib and the other schools didn’t always run so smoothly. Sometimes, the maize meal would arrive at the school late. Other times, the school would run out of cooking fuel or the volunteer cooks wouldn’t show up in time.
“This meal is sometimes the only meal the student’s eat that day, so it’s important the programme is running well—otherwise, the students don’t eat”, says Titus Michael, one of Nau-Aib’s two NSFP focal points.
Knowing the importance the school feeding in attracting students to school, getting them to stay there and helping them to concentrate on their lessons, the government decided some years ago to invest in improving the NSFP. One of the things the government did was to call upon WFP to provide technical support to make improve the quality of the programme.
Importance of training
One of the activities undertaken with WFP support was to train focal persons and school principals on how to manage their own school meals. Workshops were held all over Namibia in 2013 to introduce the various tools and procedures to teachers and principals.
“I now have more control over everything,” says Titus. “The worskhop helped me understand what my role as focal point is, what the programme is all about, what to expect and how to deal with issues when they arise.”When asked what more he would like to learn, Titus says: “Just to learn how other schools get their community involved, I am still having a hard time getting parents to participate in the programme.
"It would be nice to learn how other schools do it." WFP will work with the government to continue to support the schools in finding solutions to challenges that inhibit the success of the feeding programme.