The project has improved school infrastructure, trained teachers and community members, and provided improved literacy materials and interventions.
For the next phase of the project, the USDA will invest 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 will seek greater sustainability and local ownership, with the Government of Sierra Leone as an active partner, as it seeks to scale up a national school lunch programme.
Ambassador Brewer welcomed this development, stating: “The U.S. Government commends the Government of Sierra Leone for making education its flagship programme and for allocating start-up funding for the national school feeding programme.”
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.
Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary School Education, Lawyer Alpha Osman Timbo, who chaired the event, said that access to free quality education was at the centre of President Bio’s administration.
The launching of the School Feeding Programme and its associated packages will tremendously add to the success of the Free Quality Education Initiative, he said.
Speaking on behalf of the people of Koinadugu and Falaba districts, Paramount Chief Member of Parliament, Hon. Alie Balasama Marah of Sengbe Chiefdom, thanked the government of Sierra Leone and its implementing partners for introducing the school feeding programme in the area. He said that this decision is testament to the fact that government is impartial and treats all regions equally in pursuing development across the country.
“This will go down in the history of this country, because contrary to every expectation the School Feeding Program has been launched in the northern part of the country, where some people believe it is not the political stronghold of the ruling party. This is a laudable venture,” said Paramount Chief Alie Balasama Marah.
The country representative of CRS, Paul Emes, described the launching of the School Feeding Programme as momentous, because this shows how serious President Bio’s administration is about building the human capacity of the country through universal access to education, he said.
He promised that other areas of need, including capacity building of teachers, rehabilitation of primary schools, construction of water wells and boreholes would also be part of the package.
President Julius Maada Bio thanked the government of the United States of America and CRS for joining him in ensuring that free and quality education reaches every corner of the country.