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Girls of Motithang High School
Karma Dorji was about eight years old when he was enrolled as a boarding student in a primary school in Tsirang in 1982. He did not feel good about leaving home.
Next day a big truck rolled in at the school campus loaded with fat nylon sacks, fish-smelling boxes and white five-litre Jerry cans. His senior schoolmates unloaded the truck and carried the sacks and boxes and cans to a dank, rat-infested storeroom adjacent to the school kitchen.

That evening, Karma, for the first time, had a meal he had never tried before. A strange sumptuous meal of pure wheat and deep-fried flat salted dry fish. He liked the fish so much that he bribed an older friend who was in charge of the store and took home, during his summer break, a few pieces of the dried fish for his parents.

In 2003, WFP provided school feeding assistance to 33, 284 students
The meals that Karma ate was part of the school feeding programme started in several schools in the country decades ago by the world food programme (WFP). The programme continues to this day. WFP, created by the united nations in 1963 to provide food assistance for the needy, opened its country office in Bhutan in 1976 on the invitation of the government. Some 27 years down today WFP still holds strong and most educated Bhutanese have been WFP beneficiaries at one time or the other.
Besides feeding school children, WFP continues to support construction of roads and suspension bridges, health, agricultural re-settlement, forestry, irrigation and dairy development.


WFP's support increased students enrolment
"WFP has always closely worked with the government in line with its most important priorities," said the WFP-Bhutan representative, Mr Gerald Daly. "For example, it is at present channeling 80 percent of its resources to the education sector in support of the goal of universal primary education for all by 2007."

In 2003, the education ministry with WFP's support, provided school feeding assistance to 33,284 students of which 43 percent were girls.

WFP's support has increased students' enrolment, attendance rate and reduced dropouts. It has also reduced the financial burden on parents while sending their children to schools, and provided students with proper boarding.

In 2003, WFP provided 162 and 195 boys, some of whom formally lived in huts around the school, with boarding hostels.

Contributed by Gopilal Acharya, Kuensel, Bhutan's National Newspaper


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