FG moves to restructure school feeding programme

School Feeding Programme

THE Nigerian Home Grown School Feeding Programme received a boost today from a collaboration between the Federal Government and the partnership Child Development at Imperial College in London.

President Bola Tinubu on January 12, suspended all programmes of the National Social Investment Programme Agency for six weeks.

NSIPA administers four programmes: the N-Power Programme, the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme, the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, and the Home Grown School Feeding Programme.

According to Segun Imohiosen, Director of Information, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the suspension is as a result of an investigation into alleged misconduct in the agency’s and its programmes’ management.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on the Home Grown School Feeding Programme, Yetunde Adeniji, stated at a stakeholders’ workshop in Abuja that the engagement with international organisations on the school feeding scheme was part of Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Action agenda.

Adeniji stated that the workshop’s purpose was to launch the Value for Money Study, which aims to quantify the cost of the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme and reflect on its multi-sectoral advantages and influence on the country’s socioeconomic and human capital development.

She stated that the study’s goal was also to determine the efficacy of the school feeding programme in improving students’ attendance and academic performance; in other words, it was a comparative analysis of the benefits of investing in school feeding versus other educational interventions.

“This study, fully sponsored by the Imperial College, is research that improves the level of school feeding within the states. It will help evaluate the programme to know issues, indices, and whatever challenges the programme has had in the past.

“This programme or research will also help us when it comes to our international partners. Once Nigeria is certified, we know that we will be able to get more value, especially when we are talking to our foreign partners, foreign development agencies, and NGOs.

She stated that the study will begin in Kaduna and Osun states and will then expand to six states, one from each geopolitical zone of the country, before covering all 36 states by the end of the year.

According to her, data for the study will be gathered from both primary and secondary sources, with youths from the states recruited to collect primary data from relevant stakeholders such as schools, state ministries, departments and agencies involved in school feeding, cooks, farmers, and community members.

“These data would be forensically analysed by local and foreign experts, led by Prof. Lesley Drake of PCD Imperial College, London.

“The research is a commendable one, it is a huge one, it also is going to benefit some of our youths within those states, because once they are appointed to be part of the research, they will also get paid, and it will help them improve their status or whatever they are doing for a living.

“The Research will ensure transparency, and accountability, but most importantly, preventing bottling, the programme will ensure bottlenecks are actually cleared towards ensuring a better school feeding programme.

“With steps like these,According to her, the stakeholders’ meeting marks the take-off of the programme, which will then be taken to the states, then to the local government areas.

She also said teachers, principals, traditional rulers, and community members, would be carried along in the implementation process that would be fully monitored by state governments.

“The end participants, however, are the kids.’’

Also shedding more light on the study, Abimbola Adesanmi, of the PCD, Nigeria Office, said the Value for Money Study was aimed at determining the cost of the programme and its benefits to the government.

“The essence of the study is to provide an empirical report to the government to guide it on the scale-up of investment on the school feeding programme,’’ Adesanmi said.

She added that the study would help understand many issues such as; the cost of transportation, feeding, what teachers spend to have children in class, and the cost of infrastructure, all in a bid to improve implementation.

“All the research and study is to help us understand what the farmers are providing for us; is it season-based or on availability? What are the factors influencing the cost of the meals? All these are to enable us to ensure healthy and nutritious meals to school children, and local smallholder farmers are part of the programme.

“If we are able to marry those two goals together, definitely there will be impact on human capital development and economic empowerment in the country,’’ she said.

According to Adesanmi, it is a nationwide programme, and starting with Kaduna and Osun states is a proof of concept since it is also being supported by some partners within the country.

“By the end of the year, we hope to complete the 36 states and give the government a report to say this is what you need to improve, to restructure, and to redesign the programme appropriately.’’

Over the years, the Nigerian Home Grown School Feeding Programme has generated economic opportunities for smallholder farmers, local businesses, and women-led enterprises.

Other partners in the programme include; Harvard University, London, the Federal Ministries of Humanitarian Affairs, Education, Health, Agriculture, Budget and Economic Planning, and the Universal Basic Education Commission, among others.