By Rohey Jadama & Abdoulie G. Dibba

The World Food Programme (WFP), in collaboration with the Ministry of
Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) sensitized both th electronicand print media on the school feeding programme on Monday 2nd March,
2015 at the Regional Education Directorate in Kanifing.

The main objective of this sensitization according to organisers is to
communicate the current activities in order to bring awareness to the
general public as to what is going on with regard to the successes as
well as the constraints of the school feeding programme.
Mr. Baboucarr Bouye, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Basic
and Secondary Education (MoBSE) indicated that awareness creation,
frequent information sharing and feedbacks are key ingredients
required to foster ownership and effective participation.
PS Bouye pointed out that understanding the concept of home grown
school feeding, how it works and what benefits there are and the role
of all stakeholders is an important starting point for awareness
creation for all stakeholders.
“The vision envisaged for this sensitization is that all stakeholders
have greater understanding of home grown school feeding program and
fully participate to ensure that healthy and nutritious food for
school feeding is available in all schools at all time”, says PS
He said the programme is designed to empower local farmers to benefit
from the school feeding market and encourage improved production
practices among small-scale farmers.
Speaking earlier, Madam Vitoria Ginja, the World Food Programme (WFP)
Country Director opined that school feeding is part of the
multisectoral intervention with the ultimate goal of contributing to
increase in enrolment and retention. “As we celebrate this week,
international school meals day, we, MoBSE and WFP consider it relevant
to take the advantage in creating a better understanding of what
school feeding encompasses as a hoslistic approach and how we jointly
raise awareness” said the WFP Country Director.
She outlined that the role of the media goes beyond awareness
creation; she said the media serves as a link between the project
implementation team and the general public and that school
feeding promotes equal access to education and learning by boosting
enrolment, attention and completion rates.
“ School meals also contribute to gender equality by providing
special incentives for sending girls to school, reducing hunger and
increasing child’s ability to concentrate and learn, enhancing the
child’s educational achievements”, said the WFP Country Director.
On his part, the Executive Director of the Gambia Press Union, Gibaru
Janneh called on the press to report accurately as their role is
relevance in awareness creation.
He thanked MoBSE and WFP for recognizing the role of the media
which motivated them to call for this media sensitization on the
school feeding programme.
After the opening session, Journalists from both the electronic and
print media were exposed to the background, objectives of the
sensitization agenda and expected outputs; overview of WFP Assistance
in the Gambia; Video Documentary on school feeding; General
understanding of  school feeding; the current status of school
feeding-Capacity development and home grown; local procurement;
discussion and question and answer session.