UNICEF announces boost to school health and nutrition programmes in Togo

2 September 2008The head of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today announced $3 million of extra support for education, health and nutrition programmes in Togo during her first visit to the West African country. Ann M. Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF, unveiled the additional support at a meeting with Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe, the agency said in a press release.During the meeting with Mr. Gnassingbe, Ms. Veneman stressed the need to place Togo’s children at the heart of national policy and planning.She later visited a convent for followers of vodon – also known as voodoo – and met with the High Priestess and a group of girls under her religious instruction.In Togo, girls as young as four enter convents for training, and many do not continue their education after their initiation period. But a recent joint initiative involving UNICEF, the Togolese Government and local organizations aims to encourage those girls to attend school.“Education is critical for children and for their future,” Ms. Veneman said. “By working with traditional religious leaders, children and especially girls are being given the opportunity to go to school, some of them for the first time.” read more