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Stakeholder Consultation on School Meal, 23 July, 2023, Dhaka, Bangladesh

CAMPE organized a “Stakeholder Consultation on School Meal” on Sunday, 23 July 2023 at the UCEP Auditorium, Mirpur, Dhaka to collect input from relevant people on a draft “stakeholder mapping” to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of advocacy initiatives in the light of the “National School Meal Policy 2019”.

Professor Dr. AQM Shafiul Azam, Director, Planning and Development Wing, Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE), Rahnuma Nahid, Joint Chief, Education Wing, Socio Economic Infrastructure Division, Planning Commission, Mohammad Mizanur Rahman, Director (Planning & Development), Directorate of Primary Education, S. M. Ansaruzzaman, Project Director, School Feeding Pregramme, Directorate of Primary Education and Dr. Md. Abdul Karim, Executive Director, UCEP & Former Principal Secretary attended the consultation as the Guests of Honour.

The Session was Chaired and moderated by Rasheda K. Choudhury, Executive Director of CAMPE and a Former Adviser to the Caretaker Government.

A total of 60 participants including representatives of concerned government agencies, CAMPE Council, Education Watch group, development partner agencies, INGO/NGOs, researchers and other interested civil society groups actively participated and contributed in the consultation.

Major reflections/recommendations received from the guests and participants of the meeting included, inter alia, the following:
• School Meal is a child friendly initiative committed by the Hon'ble Prime Minister;
• Government has recently declared that a “programme for primary school feeding” (2023-2026) is being prepared for implementation;
• Implementation of school meal is a very critical issue; its efficient management requires direct and indirect involvement of the local community particularly for ensuring transparency and accountability;
• School meals are vital as many children go to school in an empty stomach every day. It is hard for them to focus in class, and their learning outcome often do not reach the desired level;
• Students will get better nutrition if they get mid-day meals in schools. It is also a great incentive for families to send their children to school;
• The school feeding program has been a blessing for children from underprivileged regions such as chars, haors and hill districts;
• The school meal will contribute to enroll all children of pre-primary and primary level in school, raise attendance, improve attention to lesson and increase retention in school. It will also contribute to ensure nutritional security and at the same time make good use of locally agricultural products;
• The initiative will contribute to increase the duration and quality of student–teacher contact in schools by eliminating hunger during the school day, as the learners can learn in a joyful and congenial environment, free from hunger;
• The program should involve local community in fulfilling the nutritional requirements of children in school, conserving traditional food habit, culture and indigenous values; it will help build a strong foundation for healthy, capable and talented human resources;
• GO and NGO can work together on school meal related issues;
• Collaboration, networking and partnerships at national and sub national levels among government agencies, academic institutions, experts, private sectors, UN agencies, development partners, NGOs, INGOs, CSOs, local community and media are essential to minimize the gaps for achieving equitable and quality education through school meal program.

Finally, the chairperson concluded the meeting with her closing speech and expressed gratitude to all for their presence and contribution to the session.

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