The government of The Gambia, from 2017 to date, has allocated a whooping sum of D120 million towards the feeding of school children, first lady, Fatou Bah-Barrow, has revealed as she joins development partners and school children in Banjul to commemorate the Africa Day of School Feeding 2019.
The event, organised in honour of school children, brought together a small group of ‘special needs’ school children from various schools to McCarthy Square. The first lady, who also participated in serving locally-made Gambian foods to the kids, said it was not a mere commemoration of the day but to highlight the multiple benefits of school feeding.
Since 2017, the government has taken over school feeding from the World Food Programme in the Lower River and North Bank Regions. In view of the benefits, the government of The Gambia is making tremendous efforts to ensure that this programme becomes fully adopted and integrated within the national context, she said.
“To fund this, the government allocated a total of 120 million dalasis to School Feeding from 2017 to-date, of which 90 million dalasis is for the 2019 academic year,” Madam Bah-Barrow said.
She described this as a demonstration of the government’s strong political will to ensure that children are well nourished, and that it is committed to investing in youth to guarantee their future and that of the economy’s human capital.
She said the feeding programme “is essential and necessary” if the country wishes to achieve its educational goals as prescribed in The Gambia’s National Development Plan, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the African Union Agenda 2063.
For decades, Gambia’s children were and are still being fed from outside the country. The first lady said it is about time that the country takes responsibility to feed the children. “I am certain that you will all agree that on the issue of education and matters relating to the welfare of children, everybody is a stakeholder,” she said.
Hence the government has been steadily increasing its budgetary allocation for school feeding over the years. It has taken the bold step by increasing the budget three fold under the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education.