On International Day of Education, WFP and the Iraqi Ministry of Education launch expansion of school meals
24 January 2022
BAGHDAD – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Iraqi Ministry of Education today kicked off the expansion of the national School Feeding Programme on the International Day of Education. This programme is fully funded by the Government of Iraq and reflects the strong commitment of the government to supporting the education of Iraqi children.
This marks a new phase of the programme where the Ministry of Education begins to directly take over the implementation of the programme and provision of the school meals. Physical classroom learning had resumed in Iraq for the current academic year following a prolonged period of distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year, for the first time the Ministry of Education will be implementing the programme directly, supporting nearly 113,000 school children in Al-Sadr City in Baghdad, in addition to nearly 21,000 children in Thi-Qar and about 50,000 children in Basra. In addition to nutrition, health and hygiene education, WFP will provide technical advisory support and also help with procurement and logistics, drawing on its years of experience in delivering school feeding programmes.
Through ongoing collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health, WFP strengthened capacities to implement the programme in 13 governorates and provide school meals to 449,000 students this year. This comes after an agreement in 2021 to broaden school feeding activities to include 3.6 million Iraqi school children by the 2024/2025 academic year.
“WFP’s ongoing collaboration with the Government of Iraq on delivering school feeding is one of the most important pillars of our work,” says Ally Raza Qureshi, WFP Representative in Iraq. “The commitment of the Ministry of Education to deliver a successful school feeding programme, built on years of working together, is testament to the importance of continued education and achieving better prospects for the young children of Iraq in the future. It is also laying strong foundations for the government to deliver social protection programmes throughout the different phases of people’s lives.”
The School Feeding Programme aims to contribute to better learning outcomes through the provision of nutritional meals in school and to contribute towards children’s attendance and school completion. The programme was suspended in the previous academic year due to COVID-19 and is now being resumed.
The importance of school feeding programmes goes beyond the immediate effects of providing young children with healthy and nutritious meals and supporting their ongoing education and staying at school. These programmes also support mobilizing and strengthening local economies as the school meal items will be sourced from local enterprises and shops. The provision of school meals also aims to promote gender equality as both boys and girls are encouraged to attend and complete school.
Through supporting the Iraqi government to independently deliver the School Feeding Programme, WFP is achieving more in terms of building stable and reliable mechanisms for supporting social protection and safety nets in the country.