The cooperation between the UN World Food Programme and the RA Ministry of Education and Science is expanding with a new research component within the framework of the ''Sustainable School Meal'' programme.
For that purpose, the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Armenia, Arevik Anapiosyan, and, the Head of the UN World Food Programme Office in Armenia, Elena Milosevic, have signed an agreement. Accordingly, the World Food Programme Office in Armenia will, under the ''Sustainable School Meal'' programme in Armenia, not only assess how snacks may impact on pre-schoolers' attention span in the classroom but on how well the schools are prepared for this. The Impact Assessment Study will be implemented in 50 schools of the three regions of Armenia (Shirak, Lori and Gegharkunik regions) among pre-school children.
After the signing ceremony, the Head of the organization's World Food Programme Office in Armenia, Elena Milosevic, has informed, that more than 100 thousand Armenian schoolchildren have been receiving free food for years in schools within the framework of the ''Sustainable School Meal'' programme: ''In Armenia, great attention is paid to schoolchildren and their nutrition. The children included in the program, as well as their families, the school, the Ministry of Education and Science, are contributing to the success of the program'', has noted Elena Milosevic.
In her turn, Arevik Anapiosyan, the Deputy Minister of Education and Science, has emphasized that assessing how diet can impact the learning process is important for the further development of the education policy. ''As a responsible body for the quality of education, we highlight the qualitative characteristics of the learner. UNESCO has identified 5 components for the quality of education where the issue of an effective diet is also pointed out. The inclusion of an assessment component in the agreement is important from this perspective, and it can provide a scientific and professional basis for further policy development'', the Deputy Minister of Education has announced. According to her those regions with high rate of poverty have been selected for the survey; it is in such regions where the percentage of the children from socially vulnerable families is high. ''Within the framework of this survey, the pre-school children are targeted. Our objective is to have a clear professional justification on how essential is the role of nutrition in improving the quality of education'', the Deputy Minister of Education has remarked.
The technical task of the assessment has already been agreed upon with the professional committee. The survey will last for one year; the final report will be provided to the Ministry of Education and Science, as well as to the Ministry of Health for feedback and comments. The pilot assessment is being implemented for the first time in Armenia within the framework of the ''Sustainable School Meal'' programme. The funds for the survey will be provided by the World Food Programme.
It should be noted that the ''Sustainable School Meal’' programme has been implemented in the schools of RA regions since 2010 with the support of the World Food Programme. The programme enables the pupils of pre-school educational institutions, as well as the first-to-fourth-graders, to receive hot or cold meals. Currently, 5 out of 10 regions are financed by the RA state budget and 5 - by the WFP. The nutrition of 40 percent of children included in the programme is provided by the RA state budget and the 60 percent - by the WFP.