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Gov’t committed to national development –VP

Apr 24, 2012, 1:50 PM | Article By: Isatou Senghore

The Government of The Gambia through the vice president has reiterated that the it is committed to fully develop The Gambia.

Vice-President Dr Aja Isatou Njie-Saidy made this statement recently at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi, at the end of the workshop on the Technical Preparation of Nutrition in Lower Basic Schools funded by the FAO and organized by NaNa in collaboration with the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education.

“I understand that The Gambia is the second country in the world to embark on such a project and that the implementation of the project activities were successfully completed in a shorter time than the first country,” she said. “This has clearly demonstrated the commitment of Gambians in national development undertakings as well as the willingness of the partners to work with the Government of The Gambia.”

VP Njie-Saidy said that in October 2009, the Gambia government under the leadership of H. E. President Jammeh signed a two-year Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) on the Technical Preparation of Nutrition Education in Lower Basic School project with the FAO.

She added that the project titled TCP/GAM3202D was officially launched in February 2009, and the signing of the TCP came against the conviction that nutrition education in lower basic schools can be a powerful tool for improving children’s nutrition and learning abilities.

VP Njie-Saidy told the gathering: “The objective of this project was to promote nutrition education as an essential development pillar throughout The Gambia with the aim of assisting the Government of The Gambia in making school-based nutrition education a strong element of education sectors contribution to the achievement of food security, and hence to overall national development and economic growth through the development of a healthy and well-trained population.”

In doing so, the vice president added, the project in various ways supported the government’s efforts in achieving most of the MDGs, in particular, MDG1 (Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger), MDG2 (Education) MDG4 (Reduce child mortality) and MDG5 (Improve maternal health).

According to VP Njie Saidy, “the project was coordinated by the National Nutrition Agency under her office and implemented in partnership with the ministries of Basic and Secondary education (MOBSE), Health and Social Welfare (MoHSW) and Agriculture (MOA). It intended to strengthen the delivery of nutrition education through the school system in order to improve overall health, dietary habits and nutrition well being”.

For his part, the FAO country representative, Dr Babagana Ahmadu said: “Inadequate nutrition is a major concern of governments in the sub-region and the international community, especially because of the negative impact the malaise does have on human, social and economic development in many countries, including The Gambia.”

He noted that strategies to address such inadequacies in food and nutrition security have in the past and presently included school feeding, food aid distribution to children under the age of five, and lactating mothers.

Dr Ahmadu added: “The assistance provided by the FAO to the Government of The Gambia under this project can, of course, not replace the efforts of the education sector to work also through education towards an improved food and nutrition security in the country.

“The project did however succeed in furnishing and implementing a new and more effective nutrition education in schools and, more specifically, this project helped in developing nutrition education learning modules and in integrating them into curricula of schools.”

According to Dr Ahmadu, the project also assisted in preparing the respective teacher training materials, and piloted the materials and the approach with a group of teacher’s trainers and teachers from a selected number of schools.

The Deputy Minister of Basic and Secondary Education, Ebrima Sisawo, who delivered the statement on behalf of Minister Faye, told the gathering that the project among other things aims at providing school-going children with the requisite knowledge and skills to positively influence a behavioral change in their health and nutrition status.

It is in pursuance of this objective, Minister Faye said, that 10 lower basic schools in regions 1 and 2 were identified and used as pilot schools and a situational analysis of health and nutrition status of children was conducted in the school communities as a result of which led to the development of a nutrition education curriculum for grades 2, 4 and 6.

Minister Faye further told the gathering that the project must be commended for its role in complementing government’s efforts in realizing the MDGs, particularly MDGs1, 4 and 5, which are to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, reduce child mortality and improve maternal health. These are areas of concern for the Government of The Gambia,” she said.

Minister Faye revealed that the 25 national trainers and the 100 teachers trained from each of the clusters in the 6 regions will form the bedrock of the in-service team and further train teachers on nutrition education using the developed teaching and learning materials for the schools.