Senior officials from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, along with staff from the UN World Food Programme (WFP), are currently undertaking a study tour of South Korean school meal programmes.

Representatives of the agriculture and finance ministries, along with those of the rural development and social protection councils, are accompanying them on the tour.

A September 20 WFP press release explained that the September 18-22 tour is aimed at strengthening similar programmes Cambodia.

The mission, which is supported by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), and led by education ministry secretary of state Nath Bunroeun, is intended to give the participants a closer look at the successful Korean model.

WFP country director Claire Conan said that through the UN agency’s Home-Grown School Feeding (HGSF) programme, Cambodia aims to provide not only nutrition but education, thus strengthening rural development and increasing food security.

She added that KOICA’s support has been transformative, from constructing essential school infrastructure to enhancing the capacities of programme implementers.

“Their assistance extends to the local economy, promoting a home-grown model that sources food locally, empowering farmers, promoting agricultural growth and establishing a sustainable food system,” she explained via the release.

Education minister Hang Chuon Naron emphasised the importance of prioritising students’ health through nutrition programmes and quality control of food in schools. He described it as a powerful driving force for the education reforms being conducted by the seventh-mandate government.

“This research tour to South Korea perfectly aligns with the Kingdom’s vision for sustainable and inclusive development. It marks a significant milestone in the collaboration between Cambodia and Korea, underscoring the profound partnership between our countries and highlighting our joint commitment to promoting education, nutrition and rural development,” he said.

“With Korea’s multifaceted support, Cambodia is forging a path towards a brighter future, where education, nutrition and sustainable development will thrive hand in hand,” he added.

The release explained that the outcomes of this tour will make a significant contribution to school feeding policies, and the development of a comprehensive national HGSF programme. The programme has reached a critical phase, transitioning to government ownership as a recognised social safety net.

The delegation will engage with their Korean counterparts to observe the local food procurement process and visit some of the schools which are rolling out the programme.