The Federal Government, on Tuesday, said it spends about N7,998,270 in daily feeding of a total of 114,261 pupils in public primary schools within Enugu State.
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Hajiya Sadiya Farouq, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, said this during an ongoing Monitoring and Enumeration of Beneficiaries of the National Home-grown School Feeding Programme at Igbariam Primary School 1, Achara Layout, Enugu.
Farouq, represented by Ms Adanne Wadibia-Anyanwu, Team Lead, Enugu State Monitoring and Enumeration of the programme, said that the government had engaged 1,532 cooks who supply the daily meals to the pupils in the state.
She noted that the programme has greatly impacted pupils in classes between primary 1 and primary 3 in 799 public schools within the 17 council areas of the state.
“We are here to get more details on the ongoing programme. We are doing enumeration and biometric data capturing of the pupils enrolled under the programme, getting feedbacks from cooks and head-teachers within the programme.
“We want to keep an up-to-date record of the programme and make it more responsive as well as meet the beneficiaries to get real-time feedback from them as well.
“The current enumeration and bio-data capturing is a building block towards the expansion of the programme to include more pupils and schools in the state.
“President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier announced his laudable intention of an additional 5 million pupils to be enrolled in the programme nationwide.
“The ministry also wants to know how the programme is being managed on daily basis, the resources available and if there are shortfalls before the expansion would be done in order to tighten loose ends,” she said.
The minister said that the programme, which started on Feb. 8, 2017, in the state, had pushed up enrollment figures in public schools and increased the daily attendance to school.
“The programme has helped in the concentration of the pupils during classes since some of them do not feed or are underfed at home before coming to school each day,’’ she said.
Farouq said that currently, the programme is having 9,196,823 pupils nationwide, with a total of 107,000 cooks supplying the food, which is indigenous and home-made for the pupils nationwide.
“The programme has a lot of multiplier effects. It has assisted farmers to expand food production and employ more hands in the farms as well as the cooks also employing more hands to assist them,’’ she noted.
Speaking, the Headmistress of the primary school, Mrs Salome Obi, said that the pupils were ‘very happy’ to be part of the programme, adding that apart from increasing enrollment, “it has helped in pupils’ retention ability”.
“After eating the meals each day, you see the pupils enlivened and eager to continue with their learning rather than feeling dull or hungry,’’ Obi said.
A cook in the programme, Mrs Uzoamaka Ogbu, thanked the Federal Government for engaging her and other women in the programme, which had helped to improve the welfare of their families and other dependents.
“The challenge we are having is the issue of non-regular payment and the current cost of food stuff in the market, which the N70 per meal (with a fruit) remained inadequate with market realities,’’ Ogbu said.
A pupil, Miss Flavour Anigbo, prayed God to bless and protect President Buhari for providing food for her and her classmates.
“The feeding makes us happy each day in school. We want them to keep it up and God to bless President Muhammadu Buhari for us,’’ Anigbo said.
The ministry monitoring and enumerating team later went to a primary school complex within Idaw River area in Enugu South Local Government with five primary schools.