President Michel Martelly tasted the meal prepared for the students. "It's good, very good", he said. Copyrights: WFP/ Jean Henoc Pernier
On October 3rd, the first day of the new school year, the streets of the country were once again filled with something very familiar in Haiti: students walking to school in their uniforms.
At the National school of Tabarre in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s president Michel Martelly chose to launch the new school year with UNICEF and WFP. The two UN agencies renewed their commitment to work together with Haitian authorities and their partners to ensure that all Haitian children receive a good quality and free education as well as a daily meal at school
“It’s a historic day”, declared President Michel Martelly, who has made education his highest priority. He announced that starting this October, more students will go to school for free.
UNICEF has begun distribution of school kits to 750,000 children and 15,000 teachers throughout the country. In total, 2,500 schools will be supported by UNICEF, which is contributing close to $10 million through the school kit distribution and other education programmes. “Education is fundamental for the development of children, families, communities, and for the future of Haiti’s reconstruction,” said UNICEF’s Representative in Haiti, Francoise Gruloos-Ackermans.
Again this year, WFP is supporting the National School Meals Programme by providing daily hot meals to 1.1 million schoolchildren in the country’s 10 departments.
“I would like to thank WFP and the National School Meals Programme because we want every child in the country to eat at least one nutritious meal every day,” said Michel Martelly. “As the saying goes, hungry stomach has no ears, which means that when children are hungry, they can’t learn,” he added to emphasize the importance of school meals for the country.
“As families are struggling with high food prices, it is even more important that children get a full meal at school,” said Myrta Kaulard, WFP Representative in Haiti.
Another priority for WFP is to forge strong links between the School Meals Programme and local agriculture. “We are working with the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Agriculture and donors to increase the amount of food produced in Haiti that is used in the school kitchens,” said Myrta Kaulard. “This food is sometimes eaten by the children of farmers who produced it”, she added. This is part of WFP's strategy to help families break the cycle of poverty and hunger.
President Michel Martelly agrees. “We are pleased to have friends who not only provide food for the children but also use their programs to encourage local production,” he said. “This creates jobs for our farmers and for this I say thank you”, Martelly added.
On the first day of class, cooks at the National School of Tabarre were busy preparing food for at least 1,000 children. When food was served, the Haitian President got his own plate. And what did he think of the school meal made of rice and beans? “It’s good, very good”, he concluded.