Not till the break of COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and its telling outcomes did the federal government’s college feeding turn into ingrained within the consciousness of Nigerians. The vulnerability of the kids had turn into so uncovered that the sufficient care for his or her well-being might now not be taken as a right.
Although the Federal Government had launched the School Feeding Programme (SFP) in 2005 with the help of the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), not a lot had been achieved till it was relaunched in 2016 underneath the title National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) with the intention to ascertain a security web for the poor, rising enrolment, and eradicating malnutrition in school-age kids whereas additionally stimulating the nationwide agricultural economic system. Not just a few noticed the federal government effort as outstanding, particularly on the features of stimulating the nationwide agriculture economic system and adhering to the ‘Zero starvation’ tenet of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Essentially, the SFP itself had been initiated in 2005 as a social safety intervention within the context of the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) Pillar III and in response to the primary and second Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The SFP can also be focused at having a big optimistic impact on progress and cognitive efficiency in kids.
According to a 2021 report by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the SFP has considerably elevated college enrolment throughout Nigeria. The report stated the programme had served college meals to over 9 million college students in 53,000 public major colleges in Nigeria, making it one of many largest college feeding programmes in whole Africa. Aside from selling diet training and higher consuming habits and inspiring the diversification of manufacturing with a particular emphasis on native crops, the programme has boosted the native economies by shopping for the merchandise of smallholder farmers and offering jobs to greater than 107,000 cooks from low-income households. The colleges additionally present native farmers with a predictable outlet for his or her merchandise, resulting in a steady revenue, extra investments, and better productiveness, at the same time as the kids get pleasure from wholesome life that makes them extra prone to keep in class.
Amidst public criticism of the NSP as one of many channels by authorities officers to siphon public funds, the National Coordinator, National Social Investments Programme (NSIP), Dr. Umar Bindir, has stated that the programme has since gone past feeding the kids to participating ladies to turn into entrepreneurs and good meals suppliers, along with enhancing the industrial and entrepreneurial worth of small scale farmers.
Figures launched by the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development which superintends over the varsity feeding programme present that 55, 449 are concerned within the programme whereas 9,990,862 pupils have up to now benefited in all of the states throughout Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory, besides Bayelsa that has but to return on board however would quickly be on board. Over 128,531 cooks are additionally employed to offer one meal per day to the pupils. In Kano State alone, there are over 1.2 million college kids being fed day by day by 12, 528 cooks with ten aggregators supplying the meals objects. The cooks, who’re chosen by their varied state governments, even have their salaries paid straight into their accounts in a clear method. About 4.1 million pupils have additionally been captured within the NHGSFP database.
A six-year-old pupil of LEA Primary School, Jabi, Abuja, Ja’afaru Ibrahim, confessed that the meal has attracted him and his mates to attend lessons day by day, regardless of the challenges that their households encounter. “Sometimes, we don’t eat at residence however we’re assured of consuming rice or beans or indomie in class. This makes college attention-grabbing to me,” stated little Ja’afaru. Another pupil within the college, eight-year-old Christina Emmanuel, stated a few of her mates that had not attended college recurrently have since turned a brand new leaf, because it had been. “We at all times have full lessons recurrently as of late and I get excited to see my associates on daily basis in class,” stated Christina.
Osun State Nutrition Officer on NHGSFP, Mrs. Comfort Adedeji, corroborated the rise in class enrolment sequel to the feeding programme, identical because the Enugu State NHGSFP Programme Manager, Mr. Ifeanyi Onah. Both officers additionally expressed delight that the programme has unfold to varsities in cities and villages of their states with a far-reaching optimistic impact on pupils’ enrolment.
At a latest two-day media dialogue in Enugu, organised by the Child Rights Information Bureau of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in collaboration with UNICEF, which dwelt extensively on Child Rights underneath the Sustainable Development Goals, members posed this query: Child Nutrition: is college feeding programme in Nigeria working?
The reply, from all of the foregoing, is that the programme is working. There are gray areas, nevertheless, that require fine-tuning to create room for enchancment in direction of perfection. One key space is transparency which might finally result in larger accountability on the a part of the ministry in command of the programme. In the phrases of a Lagos-based Child Rights activist, Mrs. Augustina Omole: “Consistency issues so much if the general objectives of the feeding programme are to be achieved. By their nature, kids are very delicate and I feel the federal government should do every thing to make sure that the programme is sustained, particularly now that end result has proven by means of elevated enrolment within the colleges.”