The program also targets 40,000 girls through the girl’s incentive pilot across 1,250 schools in Eastern Equatoria, Lakes, Jonglei, Warrap, Western Bahr el Ghazal, Northern Barh el Ghazal, Unity and Upper Nile States, Chris Nikoi, WFP Country Director South Sudan said.
He said that the feeding program activities are targeted in geographic areas where assessment evidence shows the highest levels of food insecurity in addition to nationally low enrolment, attendance and retention rates especially among girls.
Other targeting criteria are availability of implementing partners, accessibility and presence of adequate school infrastructure.
Chris said girls are being extra-ordinarily targeted in the program in a move to attract them and keep them attending school regularly from grades 3-8.
The national enrolment rate for primary school children stands at 43% meaning 57% of the children in South Sudan are not being enrolled to school and the national enrolment rate for girls into the primary schools stands at 37%, Deng Deng Yai, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of General Education and Instructions said.
The “WFP’s school meals and take-home rations for girls provide an incentive to families to send their children to school and to nourish them while there,” Chris said.
“This is in line with WFP’s strategic objective of enhancing household resilience School meals and take-home ratios which have proven to help keep children in schools; reduce short-term hunger and increase enrolment, attendance and completion rates,” he said.
He said the program also aims at promoting the struggle to achieve Millennium Development Goals (MDG).
It has worked in several countries in the world he pointed examples of Brazil, Chile, Cape Verde, Angola, Ghana among others.
In 2012 he said the program reached to 488,000 children in the country and 35,000 girls.
Deng Deng exclusively said the program will also involve initiative to ensure the involvement of parents to boost it.
In Warrap State, the State Parliament has already passed a law to make sure that every family contribute food to the schools to promote good feeding, he said.
He said the program which had started since 2008 has registered significance improvement in the general education sector by attracting many children to school.
South Sudan still lags behind in education with a national illiteracy rate standing at 73% Deng Deng said. And 88% and 76% women and men respectively are illiterate. He said the challenge needs more commitment of the government, partners and the parents.