New FAO Representative engages Education Minister on School feeding program and other education matters
(January 17, 2019) – Strengthening and transforming the national school feeding programme was among priority matters discussed when Dr. Gillian Smith the new Representative for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to Guyana, paid a courtesy call on Dr. the Hon. Nicolette Henry, Minister of Education.
The FAO has a mandate given by member states such as Guyana to reduce poverty and eradicate hunger the world over which can only be achieved through engagement and working across different sectors such as the Ministry of Education which is a vital one locally.
In recent times, as part of the School feeding programme, the Ministry of Education Guyana has partnered with FAO towards a more structured outcome.
As part of the self-orientation exercise, Dr. Smith and Minister Henry discussed a range of issues regarding the FAO work in Guyana with the main focus on the Education Ministry and the other ongoing work of the Ministry.
A Jamaican, Dr. Smith, who proudly spoke of her Guyanese heritage dubbed the discussions as “very fruitful.” She noted that the FAO has been and will continue to provide needed support to the Ministry of Education and by extension the Government of Guyana for the benefit of its populace.
Through the interface, Minister Henry informed Dr. Smith about the works and human and structural development programmes which the Education Ministry executes.
School feeding, the minister listed as a priority for Government as reflected in the 2019 budgetary allocations.
“We [the FAO] work to promote and support the country programme and we are looking for key areas to continue the work that we do while contributing to the development of education and food security in Guyana,’ said Dr Smith.
To this, Minister Henry promised the FAO representative to facilitate pathways for networking with the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Ms. Adele Clarke to share the Ministry’s transformational vision aimed at strengthening and expansion of various programmes among other subject matters.
Dr. Smith said too that it is obvious that the School Feeding program is extremely important to Guyana while commending Minister Henry for being a champion for the cause.
Further, Dr. Smith noted that School feeding programmes can be “really transformational in the development of the human capital of a country as this ensures that children have proper nutrition which allows them to have better cognitive results and learning outcomes”.
Additionally, Dr. Smith noted that her organisation knows that school feeding programmes provide a real opportunity for children to understand nutrition education which is key to tackling issues of Non-Communicable diseases (NCDs).
The contention of the FAO representative with agreement from Minister Henry is that, “if we can teach children through a vibrant and productive school feeding programme how to be lifelong healthy eaters this can help to contribute to the reduction of the NCDs and contribute to a healthy population that is productive”.
Upon conclusion of the meeting, Dr. Smith committed to Minister Henry that “We [FAO] are looking forward to being able to work with the Ministry of Education around many of the areas that the Ministry is already working on including nutrition education.
The conversation also concentrated on the curriculum and the work being done to strengthen and revise the same.