Mr. Minister of Economic Affairs and Promotion of Productive Sectors,
Mr. Minister of National Education and Reform of the Education System,
Madam Vice President of Counterpart International,
Members of the media,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to be with you today as we strengthen our cooperation and our strong partnership. Today, we are setting a new milestone in the field of education through this second McGovern-Dole education program, sponsored by the United States government.
Indeed, this new $28.5 million program will allow Counterpart International to support the efforts of the Ministry of Education to set up school nutrition programs, improve health outcomes, and strengthen the basic education system.
Thanks to this initiative, more than 140,000 students in 320 schools in the wilayas of Brakna, Gorgol, and Tagant will benefit from this program. This program follows our initial program of $22.5 million in which we were able to, from 2020 to 2022, distribute 27.6 million hot meals to 73,204 students in 209 schools and construct 202 school infrastructure projects such as water stations, separate latrines for boys and girls, and changing rooms for girls. The project team trained 274 school administrators and officials and more importantly designed new student textbooks and teacher guides in Arabic and French for grades 1 to 3 approved by the Ministry of Education and currently used in all primary schools of Mauritania. Recently I had the wonderful opportunity to visit one of these programs near Aleg and I could see for myself the difference it makes in so many children’s lives.
In particular, I would like to thank the United States Department of Agriculture for supporting the extension of the programme to Tagant. This extension will allow the program to integrate 86 schools in this wilaya with the other 234 in Brakna and Gorgol and reach 19,084 more kids.
The project has the following objectives among others:
– Improvement of student attendance rates by providing daily and nutritious school meals.
– Improvement of school infrastructure and access to drinking water and sanitation in schools.
– The development of national production through the purchase of local food for the school canteen.
Our work in the field of education supports providing educational opportunities for all. This is what we have been working to do since 2019 with the communities of Brakna and Gorgol, and soon with those of Tagant. We are proud of this cooperation symbolized by the two ongoin McGovern-Dole programs, which total $51 million from 2019 to 2027.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I always like to say that school nutrition programs are close to my heart because they are aimed at children. They are the leaders of tomorrow. Offering them the best opportunities for health and schooling will help create a world of potential and opportunity. I very much hope so.
I would like to conclude by saying thank you to the Ministry of National Education which has been for us an exemplary partner in the implementation of this program since 2019. Thank you also to Counterpart for its excellent work and dedication to development in Mauritania.