Community participation: Key to longevity
Trenchard says one of the most important parts of the program is that it coordinates administrators, parents and community leaders to take ownership of the program – from preparing the meals to deciding on a long-term strategy to keep it alive.
For example, since the food assistance is temporary, parent associations have created school gardens to replace the USDA supplies. They are educated in contemporary agricultural practices and trained to prepare the hot nutritious lunches for their children.
Key to the success of the program in Matam is partnership and involving the community from the very beginning. Within the first 18 months of the program, there was a 25 percent increase in enrollment at participating schools.
“That’s when we knew that we were doing something right,” says Counterpart’s Josephine Trenchard. “They’re involved in a program every step of the way from the designing to implementation. We make sure that they’re on board and that they own the programs.”
Senegal’s Education Ministry has also taken a considerable interest in Counterpart’s school feeding program.
“We’ve been able to work with the Minister of Education to sensitize them on the importance of school feeding and because of that there’s been a new department of school feeding opened up – with a budget,” says Josephine Trenchard, Counterpart’s Country Director in Senegal.
Meanwhile, at the Agnan Lidoube elementary school, more improvements are on the way. Money donated by the Senegalese diaspora living in Europe is being used to build more classrooms.
The changes have had a remarkable impact on the students. During a visit by a delegation to the school, the children were eagerly raising their hands to answer a teacher’s questions – and, to the pleasure of the village chief who was watching, the kids had the right answers.
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may
not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.