Antananarivo – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) supports the development of a national School Feeding programme in Madagascar which will hopefully help improve the education sector as a whole.
It may not be the best school in the world. Some of the classrooms at Mangindrano have no windows. Pupils have to sit on the floor because there are no seats. Up to 100 pupils from different grades share the same classroom and teacher.
What the school lacks in resources, however, is at least partly made up for by the dedication of some of the teachers who occasionally buy chalk out of their own money. Such is the reality of schooling in Bealanana district in northwestern Madagascar and in many of the island’s poorer areas.
School feeding may not have all the answers in cases of such deprivation but it can do a lot to improve the lot of disadvantaged children. That is why the Government of Madagascar is investing so much in setting up a national school feeding programme, prioritizing the south where the lowest school enrolment rates and the highest levels of food insecurity are found.
"Such a programme is an incentive to attract and keep children at school while providing them the nutrients and energy needed to concentrate in class” explains Volahaingo Marie Thérèse, a parliamentarian from Bealanana.
School meals promote access to education, improve the nutritional status and health of children, and help break the cycle of hunger and poverty afflicting poor areas. By procuring where possible from smallholder farmers associations, school meals also boost local agricultural production and help the economy.
WFP is supporting the government in the development of a national school feeding programme in Madagascar. A workshop - organized in Antananarivo in mid-July by the Ministry of Education, the World Bank, the Partnership for Child Development and WFP - was the first step in the development of this programme. The process is conducted in line with SABER (System Approach for Better Education Results), an education policy tool developed specially by the World Bank and WFP.
“A national school feeding programme is one of the fundamental values of the General State Policy,” said Prime Minister Kolo Roger at the closing of the workshop. “The action plan resulting from the workshop should be implemented with unequivocal commitment from the Government and renewed commitment from our partners.”
WFP implements a school feeding programme targeting 220,000 beneficiaries in southern Madagascar. For 2014 -15, World Bank funds are helping provide daily hot meals to 107,000 children. US$ 3.5 million are needed to assist the remaining 113,000.
WFP is continuing to mobilize resources to be able to continue the programme in the south and expand it to other regions where it can make a difference.