Over 500,000 children to benefit from school feeding
By Sheila Ponnie
The Minister of General Education and Instructions Deng Deng Hoc Yai said government and the World Food Programme [WFP] is planning to feed more than 500,000 school children.
“We are planning to feed over five hundred thousand children this year, this is going to be unprecedented in South Sudan,” Hoc said.
The move will be the first time for WFP and the Ministry of General Education to feed such number of schools, children this year, the minister said.
“We want to increase this programme such that it becomes a home grown school feeding programme,” Hoc said.
The education minister made the revelation during the handover of rice donated by China to WFP to support its school feeding programme in South Sudan. The ceremony took place yesterday at Juba Girl’s Primary School in Juba.
Hoc also emphasised to Juba One Girls Primary School the importance of education.
“For the girls who are here, we are talking about education because without education, there is no development. So education is a key to development and it reforms the lives of people so that you get a job and earn a lot of money and in so doing you can support yourself and help your family but this is only if you go to school and remain in school,” Hoc advised the girls.
The State Minister of Education Dr. Wani Sule said that food is very important to children’s growth and development. Without food, he said, children will grow in to disabilities and inabilities.
Wani added that food is a basic human right that has to be provided by nations and that any country unable to provide food, clothes and shelter to its people is regarded as poor and underdeveloped.
He also appreciated WPF for its work of feeding school children despite the limited resources they have.
“The increasing number of children enrolling in schools is because the children are now happy and can perform better in schools and this has also reduced the burden of parents looking for food,” Wani said.
He said that however much WFP and the education ministry, and the Chinese contribution is helping, some challenges remained. He said only 34 schools out of the 91 schools in Jubek State were benefiting from the feeding programme.
Wani also revealed that most schools that get the feeding programme come from two counties, leaving 11 counties out, saying some of the counties are alleged to be inaccessible and insecure.
“I would like to disagree here that most of our counties are accessible. They maybe be two like Wondurba which is very remote maybe because of bad road and Kondokoro because of either you access it by Mangala road or you have to cross through several islands to reach some of the schools otherwise most of our counties are accessible throughout the year,” explained Wani.
With the new donation, he urged the WFP and the Chinese Government to cover not only Juba town but also the remaining counties.
The Deputy Director General of CICETE, Zhang Yi said that the food contribution is part of saving lives.
“This new part of the contribution is part of China’s commitment to support the efforts by the Government of South Sudan and the humanitarian agencies to provide adequate food to South Sudanese facing hunger,” he said before adding, “If we can do things together we can save lives.”
On his part, the World Food Programme Deputy Country Director, Steve Nsubuga said his office wanted to ensure that children are healthy.
He said that WFP has been working together with the Ministry of General Education to increase access to education in South Sudan by providing school meals everyday of a school year.
“School feeding programmes offer a whole package of benefits that includes improvement of nutrition and health and in their capacity to understand and learn, school meals support education especially during conflicts when it plays a vital role to avoid a lost generation,” Nsubuga said.
He highlighted that children especially girls require intervention to address their specific needs.
Nsubuga also revealed that in South Sudan, the school feeding programme reaches over 445 thousand children across the country.
“Through hot meals at schools or take home rushes of these children, around 86 thousand children in over 230 schools will benefit from the rice, oil, and salt that is donated by the Chinese government,” he said.
With over 2 million children out of School in South Sudan, efforts to increase education opportunities remains vital, Nsubuga expressed.
Meanwhile Cecilia Lino, a representing of Parent-Teachers Association said that the programme for contributing the food has helped parents.
“The provision of food to our children in schools is really good because some of us parents were not able to provide for our children but now with this support from WFP, things are made easy and they have really helped us,” Ms. Lino said.
Basilika Peter, a 17-year-old student at Juba One Girls’ Primary School could not hide her happiness after receiving food served by the Minister of Education.
“I am very happy because WFP and the Chinese brought food here. Some of us come from very far and without money to buy for ourselves something to eat during lunch, so, I am really happy,” she said.