• Saturday, May 18, 2024
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BusinessDay

FG’s school feeding fails to ignite interest in Lagos

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The school feeding programme of the Federal Government, which implementation began two years ago, has failed to ignite interest in Lagos State, as the state government does not consider it a priority amid challenges of provision of basic infrastructure in schools, BusinessDay learns. There are about 1,017 public primary schools in Lagos State.

It was gathered that although the issue received deliberations at the highest level in the state, and a provision allegedly made to capture its implementation starting from 2017, the fund had to be re-channelled to address other pressing needs.
The state government, it was learnt, does see not consider feeding of pupils in public primary schools a priority that should receive special funding, as provision of basic infrastructure to cater to the increasing pupil population in public schools in the state is more of a priority to the government at this time.

Maryam Uwais, special adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on social investment programmes in the office of the Vice President, recently said the Federal Government so far spent over N49 billion on the school feeding programmes in 26 states of the federation. The implementation of the programme requires joint funding to the ratio of 60/40 percent between states and the Federal Government.

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An official in the office of Lagos State deputy governor, Idiat Adebule, who doubles as commissioner for education, confirmed to BusinessDay that the school feeding programme remained a consideration that might never receive implementation.
“If you look at other states that have embraced it, it is used as a bait to draw pupils to schools. In Lagos, our public schools are full to capacity. Our priority is to provide adequate infrastructure to cater for the growing population of pupils, train and retrain teachers to provide quality education to our children.

“Our priority also is to provide a conducive learning atmosphere and environment. School feeding is a good initiative, but it is not a top priority for now,” the anonymous official said.
Speaking also on this, Ganiyu Sopeyin, chairman, Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), said the state government was still working on how to implement the feeding programme.
According to Sopeyin, there are challenges associated with it such as pupil population, reaching schools in riverian areas and other proximity challenges.

The Federal Government recently said 9,300,892 pupils across 26 states had been captured in the school feeding programme.
Uwais said the school feeding programme had also engaged about 96,972 cooks with over 100,000 small-scale farmers being part of the supply chain for food items.
“Being a programme that aims at empowering communities, the government has engaged 96,972 cooks with over 100,000 small-scale farmers being part of the value chain, supplying locally sourced ingredients. So far, the government is now feeding 9,300,892 children in 49,837 government schools in 26 states.
It is noteworthy that currently, public schools require 6,800,000 eggs, 594 cattle and 83 metric tons of fish weekly to be supplied to the cooks, for the purpose of feeding the children,” Uwais in August said while giving update on the programme.