(KPL) The World Food Programme (WFP) on May 15 handed over its school feeding programmecurrently implemented at more than 500 schools across the country to the government.
The handover ceremony took place at the Bor village school in Xay district, Oudomxay province where WFP provides 40,000 plates of food per year to the school’s 200 students.
In 2002, WFP started the school feeding to provide nutritious meals to children who would often come to school on an empty stomach. Since then the programme has expanded to cover more than 140,000 children in 1,450 schools across the country.
School meals have given a generation of our children better nutrition and health, helped them grow, develop and achieve success, said Deputy Minister of Education and Sports Khamphay Sisavanh.
They have also contributed to attracting more children to school and keeping them there. We are deeply grateful to WFP and its supporters for their tireless work in helping us build a stronger nation and giving our children a chance in a better future, said the deputy minister.
A cost-benefit analysis of the school feeding programme in 2018 showed that for every US$1 spent, the return is US$6. Not only has Laos seen an average 14 per cent school enrollment increase over the last 10 years, children receiving school meals are also spending one year longer at school compared to their peers.
This handover is a perfect example of what can happen when we all work together with one common goal: helping a new generation of children grow up healthy and educated, said WFP Executive Director David Beasley. It’s a testament to all the work put in by the government, WFP and its partners and donors.
WFP has been working in Laos for the last 45 years. Following the adoption of the government’s National Policy on Promoting School Lunch in May 2014, WFP started to shift its focus from implementing the School Meals Programme to building the capacity of the government and communities. The goal is to hand over the entire programme by 2021.
Starting from the new school year in September, the government will support the programme in 800 schools, including 515 of them handed over by WFP, disbursing US$0.10 (LAK 800) per child per day. WFP will provide continued technical support to ensure sustainability and strengthen local ownership, including installation of school water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, setting up school gardens, community green houses and fish ponds.
FAO Director General Jose Graziano da Silva and IFAD Regional Director Nigel Brett, who were in Laos for a joint field visit with Executive Director Beasley, were also present at the handover ceremony.
Source: Lao News Agency