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Healthy meals on the way for rural students in Kingdom

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The five-year Home Grown School Feeding project will benefit approximately 65,000 students and about 750 farming families in Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Thom, and Pursat provinces. Heng Chivoan

Healthy meals on the way for rural students in Kingdom

The Korea International Cooperation Agency (Koica) will provide $10 million to the Ministry of Education to implement a five-year Home Grown School Feeding project, which will benefit approximately 65,000 students and about 750 farming families.

The signing ceremony for the project was held on March 30 between Koica, the Ministry of Education and the World Food Programme (WFP). The project will cover three provinces – Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Thom, and Pursat.

A WFP press release said the aid will strengthen local food security as well as primary students’ nutritional wellbeing.

The aid will also help rural developments by promoting agricultural growth as local produce will be used to cook meals at certain schools.

“The project will target approximately 65,000 children (49 per cent girls) who study in food-insecure areas with high rates of malnutrition and poor education indicators.

“It will also help generate income for 750 smallholders who will become the food suppliers for the programme. Within the process, many commune councillors and sub-national officials in various line departments will benefit from training and mentorship support,” the press rerelease said.

WFP will implement, monitor and provide technical support for the project based on the programme’s long-term management and existing cooperation with the ministry.

Cambodia’s rapid economic growth over the last two decades requires the immediate development of human resources to meet the skills needed for the marketplace in the future, the release said.

Malnutrition is a major public health concern, and the project will help solve the problem by providing education for children, nutritional information, and a boost to rural economies.

After the programme is up and running for five years, the government will take over its management.

“With Koica’s support, we will help manage the transition of the programme from WFP’s management to full government ownership by 2024,” the press release said.

On Tuesday, Ministry of Education spokesman Ros Soveacha told The Post that “the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport welcomes all positive cooperation with any development partners and any relevant parties to participate in educational, youth and sports reforms, such as sustaining students’ nutrition so they improve their academic quality”.

According to WFP’s website, 15 per cent of Cambodians are under-nourished and 32 per cent of children under five suffer from stunted growth.

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