The Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MOBSE), in partnership with the World Food Program (WFP), has conducteda four-day workshop on school meals policy implementation; handover plan, nutrition program, and the school meals code of conduct.
The workshop is taking place at Ocean Bay Hotel, Cape Point Bakau, and runs from 13 to 16 November 2017.
The first day dealt with the objective to disseminate the content of the validated school meals policy, sensitize on multisectoral linkages, roles and responsibilities for achievement of policy objectives.
The WFP representative, Ms Angela Cespedes, said that school meals have been implemented in The Gambia since the 1970s.
According to her, The Gambia has progressed significantly since 2012 in terms of establishing the foundation of nationally-owned resources programme.
From 1970 to date, there have been various cycles of school-feeding projects in The Gambia, supported by the Government of The Gambia and WFP, she stated.
These projects have covered beneficiaries in both urban and rural areas, she said, adding that the food basket has evolved over the years and has always been focused on providing a nutritionally balanced basket for beneficiaries.
The Gambia, she added, has steadily improved net school enrollment and completion rates over the past two decades and has achieved gender parity.
However, she stated, many children still lack access to formal education, adding that a recent government performance assessment shows that school meals contribute to improve education results and provide a safety net for populations coping with recurring shocks, both natural and related to food prices.
Ebrima Sankareh, a representative from the Ministry of Agriculture, said that the school feeding development was a result of a conscious effort to address the crucial role in school feeding to ensure quality education for children.
For procurement of locally produced commodities, market research was conducted on what is available, where and affordable prices across the country.
The form of agriculture practiced by the vast majority of Gambian farmers is subsistence and rudimentary, he said.
He stated that although about 75% of the Gambian population engage in some form of agricultural activities, most of them smallholder, agricultural yields are less than 1 metric ton per hectare.
Adama Juma Jobe, a representative from MOBSE, said that requirements for macro-nutrients for preschool children are roughly about 70% of the requirements of primary school children.
Presentation of validated school meals policy was done by Mrs Tida Jatta Jarjou, Director of Basic and Secondary Education programme and inter-sectoral policy linkages on various sectors.