• Thursday, April 18, 2024
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Nigeria’s school feeding programme struggles to meet objectives – experts

Lagos adopts affordable school feeding approach

There is a growing vote of no confidence among Nigerians for the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) as experts insist that the exercise is struggling to meet its objectives given the high rate of out-of-school children in the country.

Launched in 2016 by the Federal Government, the scheme aimed to tackle the social challenges, malnutrition and poverty among Nigerian children and its attendant consequences on education.

During the week, the Federal Government admitted it spent N12 billion on the feeding scheme monthly under the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development (MHADMSD).

But six years later, there are mixed feelings among stakeholders if the scheme launched under the National Social Investment Programmes (NSIP) has achieved its objective.

“The magnitude of the problem is beyond a white elephant feeding project. We are facing one of the highest levels of insecurity and poverty in our political history,” said Muda Yusuf, an economist and former director-general of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LLCI), a private sector advocacy group.

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) in its report revealed that Nigeria has the world’s highest rate of out-of-school children with 10.5 million children out of school.

The UNICEF representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, who stated this in a statement while commemorating the International Day of Education on January 24, noted: “an estimated 35 percent of Nigerian children who attend primary school do not go on to attend secondary school, while half of all Nigerian children did not attend secondary school in 2021.”

Read also: The ‘Nigerian disease’ and implication for food security

He also stated that millions of Nigerian children have never set foot in a classroom, raising concerns over the crisis of low funding of education by the government, and the problem of the COVID-19 pandemic in the education sector.

“We need to have a holistic approach in terms of funding,” Yusuf noted.

Faced with the problem of poor funding, the Federal Government allocated 7.2 percent of its N17 trillion 2022 budget to the education sector.

Though it shows an increase from 5.7 percent in 2021, experts say the education budget is still a long way to go.

“Nigeria is bedevilled by the problem of the high rate of out-of-school children, the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, insecurity and what has been described as a shoddy implementation of the school feeding programme,”

According to the Wisconsin-based Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), there were 25 different attacks carried out on schools by bandits in 2021; while 1,440 children were abducted; 16 killed and no fewer than 618 schools were closed in six Northern states of Sokoto, Zamfara, Kano, Katsina, Niger, and Yobe over the fear of attack and abduction of pupils and teachers.

ACLED data also shows that the bandits killed more than 2,600 civilians in 2021, an increase of over 250 percent from 2020. This number dwarfs that of civilian deaths credited to Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province in the same year.

In the period between December 2020 and August 2021, more than 1,000 students and school staff were abducted. Within the next six months, as many as 343 people were killed, while 830 others were abducted by bandits between July and September 2021 in Kaduna state alone, according to figures from the Kaduna state government.