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South Africa and Nigeria share best practice in the effective implementation of national school feeding initiatives

Deputy Director-General for Care and Support in Schools, Dr Granville Whittle, hosted a delegation from the Office of the Presidency, Federal Republic of Nigeria at the Department of Basic Education (DBE) in Pretoria from 2 to 4 September 2019. The delegation undertook a three day study tour to South Africa to explore the successes of the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) and the model used by the DBE in serving nutritious meals to millions of learners across all nine provinces.

Programme Manager for the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme in Nigeria, Ms Adesanmi Abimbola, said that, “one of the reasons that led to our visit to South Africa is the fact that both countries have similar learner populations benefiting from national school feeding initiatives. Nigeria for instance, is providing healthy meals to more than 10 million learners through its National Home Grown School Feeding Programme across 32 states, whilst South Africa is providing nutritious meals to more than 9, 6 million learners as part of the NSNP. This affords us with an opportunity to share best practice in areas of accountability, efficiency and monitoring”. Ms Abimbola commended the DBE for having employed Food Handlers in various provinces to accelerate food preparations for breakfast and lunch periods, saying that the strategy is critical because it helps schools to honour teaching time.

In his welcoming address, Dr Granville Whittle commended Nigeria for having chosen South Africa out of 59 countries participating in the 20th Global Child Nutrition Forum in 2018. “There are indeed a lot of best practices which Africans can share; we share similar challenges and can help each other in nourishing African children, whilst developing our economies using our natural resources”. The meeting was concluded with a commitment to strengthen the African network by communicating and sharing evidence-based research as well as celebrating the Africa School Feeding Day observed on 1 March annually.

The effective monitoring of provinces in implementing the national school feeding initiatives was highlighted as the most significant focus areas during the tour. The two parties agreed that the NSNP will become more effective if communities are actively involved, especially the local smallholder farmers to ensure the sufficient weekly supply of vegetables to schools.

The NSNP was established to make a difference to the lives of children from disadvantaged communities. The top five provinces that have large numbers of learners benefiting from the NSNP, include KwaZulu-Natal with 2,261,254 learners, followed by the Eastern Cape with 1,663,387. The Limpopo Province caters for 1,655,069, whilst Gauteng stands at 1,501,736. The fifth province is Mpumalanga with 909,948 learners. Provinces with the least numbers of learners remain the Western Cape, the North West and the Northern Cape Provinces.

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