Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE), in partnership with World
Food Program (WFP) yesterday organized a day’s workshop on the validation of
Cost-benefit Analysis and National Cost Assessment Report on school meals at
Region One Education office, Kanifing.
The workshop was aimed at creating a forum for the participants where they could exchange ideas to discuss on the presented reports and make workable recommendations that would be incorporated into the report.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Minister of Basic and Secondary Education, Claudiana Cole, said that school meals program in The Gambia is one of the most successful safety net programs currently managed by the World Food Program and the government of The Gambia through the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education.
The school feeding program, according to Minister Cole has yielded a lot of benefits in terms of enrollment, retention, performance as well as reducing the financial burden on parents in terms of maintaining their children in school.
However, there was no research to scientifically substantiate this evidence, she said.
According to her, in the latter part of 2014, WFP, MOBSE and other partners of the school meals program conducted a mid-term review on the operational effectiveness of the school feeding program.
She further revealed that the purpose of the research was to determine total benefit to the community from each dollar invested both in the short and long-term, adding that this model quantified the value created per dollar invested in school feeding.
Also speaking at the opening ceremony, Ousman Dem, Program and Policy officer-Nutrition at WFP, registered his sincere gratitude to the University of The Gambia for the successful completion of the cost-benefit study on the School Feeding Program.
He said in April 2016, WFP and MOBSE jointly organized the first national cost assessment training on the School Meals Investment Case Analysis.
He added that the training ensured common understanding of the tool for the study and set a baseline to facilitate the analysis of the study.
Mr. Dem concurred that school meals represent a huge market that could support farmers and small businesses, with a specific focus on those run by women.
According to him, relying on locally sourced food commodities contributes to the sustainability of school meals program and increases the chances for ownership by government.
Home-grown school feeding has gained momentum on the continent with substantial support from national budget, he said, adding that achieving their strategic goal of eliminating hunger and chronic malnutrition requires them to invest in school meals.