Sierra Leone: In a bid to complement government’s school feeding programme, Joint Aid Management (JAM) on Tuesday 6th April 2021 officially launched its school feeding programme.
The ceremony took place at the New Brookfield’s Hotel on Jomo Kenyatta Road, Freetown.
The school feeding is a child-focus programme currently benefitting three chiefdoms out of 17 in Tonkolili District.
Chairperson for the launch ceremony Eric Massallay noted that school feeding is under the free quality education project, adding that it was good for JAM to be at the forefront in Tonkolili District.
Massallay recalled and revealed that school feeding motivated him in school, and thanked JAM for what he described as “a good work done.” He opined that the increase in school enrolment resulted from the JAM school feeding programme.
Hannah Rita Sesay, a beneficiary and pupil of the Roman Catholic Primary School at Yele in Tonkolili District, appealed to JAM and the government of Sierra Leone for the sustainability of the initiative, as “school feeding is very crucial for students to stay in school.”
Joseph S. Kamara of the same school disclosed that he and his colleagues used to leave school and enter the bushes in search of food. “But now, we no longer do so, for we now have food to eat while in school,” he added.
Country Manager, JAM, Damarice O. Ager, disclosed that JAM has been in Sierra Leone since 2018, adding that it is a child-focus organisation. She said JAM has a lot of partners, one being the government of Sierra Leone.
She called on government to support their school feeding programme to enable them expand to other areas in the country. She disclosed that their future plans are to prevent malnutrition as well as expanding on water and hygiene.
In his keynote address, the representative from the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Mamusu Massaquoi, thanked President Bio for the school feeding programme.
Massaquoi disclosed that while there are one million three hundred and seventy thousand (1,370,000) school pupils across the country, just four hundred and thirty-four thousand six hundred and ninety-one (434,691) pupils are benefitting. She said there is not much resource to feed all school pupils across the country, adding that the selected schools and pupils are the most vulnerable.
She revealed that plans are underway to roll out a home grown school feeding programme which will create diversity in meals, create employment, improve the country’s economy, among others. She encouraged JAM not to rely on government to support them, but to source funds externally.
Member of Parliament, Constituency 052, Abdul B.D. Sesay, opined that school feeding is very crucial to education, adding that if any country is to develop, education should be a priority.
He spoke highly of JAM’s school feeding programme, which he said has greatly contributed to pupils’ academic performance in the district. “Without food, your immune system won’t be strong,” he opined. He appealed to the government of Sierra Leone to support JAM so that the school feeding can be extended to all schools across the district.
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