Access to education is a fundamental human right. Yet, for millions of women and girls among the food insecure IDPs and poor households in Somalia, education has remained a dream.
Berlin Mohamed is a twelve-year-old, class five student at Dollow primary school located in Gedo Region of Somalia. Hailing from a poor IDP and food-insecure household, Berlin is quite active in class and has never missed a class lesson since she was readmitted back to school three years ago, thanks to the intervention by NAPAD and World Food Programme (WFP) School Feeding programme.
As Berlin Mohamed steps into the class to make her sit at the front row, she exchanges pleasantries with her female classmates before the lesson commences. . The equatorial sun has begun to heat the day and is burning through the window. With Berlin now concentrating in class without disruption, she not only gets good marks in her exams but has steadily managed to maintain her position among the top five students in her class in the last two final exams.
‘’ I get my breakfast and lunch in school, this has helped me concentrate in my class, unlike before where I use to ponder on where my next meal will come from or doing odd jobs after class to help my family get food, which affected my learning concentration’’ said Berlin
Through a partnership with World Food Program (WFP), the NAPAD program provides breakfast and lunch to 7177 pupils (3948 boys and 3229 girls) from 22 schools in 3 districts( Dollow-5 schools, Beled Hawa-15 schools and Luuq-2 schools ).
The NAPAD-WFP school feeding program has helped to protect the rights of poor and vulnerable children to access education, provide nutrition to these children and has reignited the commitment of poor food insecure households to send their children regularly to school, especially girls. This has increased pupils enrollment in Dollow primary school by 50% per cent. As a result many poor children now get the opportunity to reclaim their childhood and to aim to transition into higher levels of education and aspire for professional careers.
More importantly, the school feeding program has reduced girls’ vulnerability to sexual exploitation and gender-based violence, teenage pregnancies and early marriages. More than 3200 vulnerable girls are in class courtesy of the school feeding program.
The number of students enrolled in the 22 schools benefiting from the NAPAD-WFP school feeding programme has been increasing annually. In 2020, 516 new students were registered, increasing the total number of beneficiaries from the previous 6661 students to 7177 students. This trend is expected to continue in the coming years.
NAPAD, WFP and school heads coordinate the school feeding program to ensure that adequate and nutritious food components are procured, delivered and are properly prepared for consumption. The school heads have generated a daily food menu to aid the cooks to prepare different diets on different days.
Berlin aspires to be a teacher in the future to empower fellow girls to access education and become important in their society.
“Why I want to become a teacher is to have an impact on my fellow Somali girls and be a role model to them in the future’’ said ambitious Berlin.
The students, parents and school heads have one message to WFP
“Continue providing the school feeding program for the school going children at any cost because it is making the difference ‘’.