Sao Tome and Principe: School meals encourage children to return to school

In Sao Tome and Principe, school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic have had far reaching impact on children beyond the direct disruption of daily schooling. They left many children who rely on schools for food security in a highly vulnerable situation. See how the country is working with partners like GPE to support programs that encourage children to return to school.

March 24, 2021 by GPE Secretariat
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2 minutes read
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With backpacks on their backs, girls run through the streets in Sao Tome and Principe. Credit: Unicef São Tomé and Principe
With backpacks on their backs, girls run through the streets in Sao Tome and Principe.
Credit: Credit: Unicef São Tomé and Principe

“Each day, I share a meal with my students to foster a sense of community, and seeing them smile makes me very happy. I tell them how the food arrived on their plates, and how the kitchen helpers have prepared their meal with the best ingredients available. Like education, nutrition is a social process. It’s development. It’s our life.”

Paul Jorge, Director of the school of Battepa’ in Sao Tome and Principe

Sao Tome and Principe is working with partners like GPE to support programs that ensure that school meals are still accessible to children who need them the most.

The World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF have partnered with the Ministry of Education to assist vulnerable communities to ensure that children continued to receive nutritious meals during the pandemic.

In Sao Tome and Principe, school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic have had far reaching impact on children beyond the direct disruption of daily schooling.

Schools provide far more than just education. They offer safe social spaces, clean water and sanitation facilities and provide daily meals.

School closures left many children who rely on schools for food security in a highly vulnerable situation.

Schools shut down in March 2020 and reopened in September 2020 with help from GPE, UNICEF and WFP, and through collaboration with the government and other national actors.

To encourage children to return to school, the partners provided access to water and sanitation facilities in schools. They also developed communication materials to raise public awareness of COVID-19 involving students, parents and the community.

A teacher writing at the blackboard. Credit: Unicef São Tomé and Principe
A teacher writing at the blackboard.
Credit:
Credit: Unicef São Tomé and Principe

Mitigating the spread of COVID-19 as children return to school remains a key priority for the ministry of Education. It has reinforced safety measures already adopted in schools to contain the spread of the pandemic.

A collaboration with the ministry of Infrastructure has further strengthened the ministry of Education’s ability to monitor the quality of the water and sanitation infrastructure in schools to ensure that children stay protected during the pandemic.

In July 2020, Sao Tome and Principe received a GPE grant of US$750,000, which is managed by UNICEF, to respond to education challenges in the time of COVID-19.

In late March 2020, the UNICEF office in Sao Tome and Principe received a GPE grant of US$70,000 to support the Ministry of Education with developing a national response plan. The grant was also used to support the education crisis team.

This story was made possible with the support from UNICEF Sao Tome and Principe.

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