"Before this project, our school was almost empty every afternoon as the children hardly came back after lunch. They left to join their parents in the plantations,” said Coulibaly Nigni Amara, Principal of Lataha 1 Primary School, Ivory Coast.
The school was recently visited by Mr. Curtis McCoy, Program Manager for Ivory Coast at the Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS), USDA in his monitoring mission to the program "Integrated Support for Sustainable School Canteens and Early Grade Reading" funded by USDA - McGovern-Dole (2016-2020). Led by The World Food Program (WFP) and implemented by AVSI and partners, the program will contribute in the next five year to the sustainability of school canteens in 613 schools in seven regions in Ivory Coast.
“The most interesting is that with the intervention of AVSI, our school is now equipped with a lot of new tools. Teachers are happy to work in this new context. We can also count on our cooperatives who are ready to supply the canteens with their food products, " complemented Amara.
The purpose of Mr. McCoy’s mission was to ensure that the program is running smoothly in the targeted schools. Concretely, it was a question of knowing the level and the quality of the interventions already carried out by the Ministry of the National Education. Community participation was also of major interest namely how the communities and the teachers integrate the program, in order to promote the sustainability of school canteens.
AVSI directly implements an important complementary component of the program: "the improvement of teaching and learning how to read" in the targeted schools. Through this program, in addition to literacy activities and material, more than 125,000 students in 613 rural primary schools in the most vulnerable areas of the North, Northeast, and West of the country receive a hot meal every school day.
During his mission, Mr. Curtis McCoy, had a series of meetings, not only with the Ministry of National Education, but also with all actors involved in the implementation of the program, such as WFP, AVSI and the School Canteens Department.
“I’m pleased with the mobilization, the commitment of the populations and the teachers contributing to the success of the project in their schools, but also, how this program is positively influencing the retention of children in schools and the quality of children's reading levels, ” says McCoy, USDA representative after the field visits and discussions with the local administrative authorities.