Minister of Education Visits United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Funded and CRS implemented McGovern Dole International Food for Education and Nutrition Project
On May 21, 2019, Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Mr. Alpha Osman Timbo, and forty delegates from collaborating ministries and development partners visited the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) implemented McGovern Dole International Food for Education and Nutrition Project – “All Pikin for Learn” intervention area. The visit was to acquaint himself with the project activities and implementation processes. This visit follows the launch of the project by the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, H.E. Julius Maada Bio, and the United States Ambassador to Sierra Leone, H.E. Maria Brewer, on November 28, 2019. Active since 2008, led by CRS and funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this project has invested over $37 million to provide daily, nutritious school meals to over 30,000 schoolchildren annually. The project also improves school infrastructure, trains teachers and community members, and provides improved literacy materials and interventions.
This fourth phase of the project is investing a further $25 million to expand the provision of daily school meals to nearly 70,000 children and continue its infrastructure, training, and literacy components. This phase is seeking greater sustainability and local ownership, with the Government of Sierra Leone taking a more active role as it seeks to scale up a national school lunch program. Thus, the visit was part of efforts to understudy different design options and implementation models to build a sustainable nationally owned school feeding program. The government has so far allocated about Le69 billion (approximately $7.5million) to provide school meals which, in time, will create a stable and predictable market for local small holder farmers. Minister Alpha Timbo stated, “The Government of Sierra Leone is committed to providing free quality education, with school feeding as a key component. This visit will help in designing a model and finalizing the national policy on school feeding.” The Minister and the visiting team, including the Deputy Minister of Education and representatives of the World Food Program and other partners, visited Dembelia Sinkunia and Neini Chiefdoms.
This latest USDA-funded project includes the direct donation of 7,000 metric tons of food from the United States, as well as financial assistance for complimentary activities, including government capacity building. USDA’s McGovern-Dole program, active throughout the world since 2002, has benefited over 30 million students, parents and teachers. The primary objectives of the program are to improve school attendance, especially among girls, reduce hunger, and improve literacy in primary education.