The National Home Grown School Feeding Programme is yet another master piece and one of the most alluring programmes of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and of course one of the major achievements of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
The Programme covers 35 states in Nigeria and the FCT with Bayelsa state getting onboard soon and approximately 9.8 million students in 53,000 public primary schools nationwide, benefitting from the programme annually.
Since 2019 after the establishment of the ministry, the programme outshined every other School feeding programme in Africa by becoming the largest on the continent.
The programme has earned accolades for the country and ofcourse the President Muhammadu Buhari administration being the first school feeding programme initiative of the country since 1999. Who would have thought that there will be a day in Nigeria when Federal government will be feeding pupils in public schools? Let me not forget that the meals served to the students is nutritious and programmed to fight malnutrition.
I met a lot of parents back then in 2010 and cautioned them on the negative effects and disadvantages of not enrolling their children in schools. However, my advocacy failed, especially as it applies to girl child education mostly. Their excuse was always not having the resources to enroll their children in schools.
They will rather marry off the girls at a very young age and send the boys out on streets to hawk satchet water.
However in 2019, i was assigned on another advocacy to the same locations I went to in 2010 and to my surprise, the school enrollment of each increased by 90%, I thought I was the one that was not doing enough until I met an elderly woman who had five grandchildren all above the ages of 10.
I asked her if their whereabouts and she held my hands and said to me “my son, we have always believed in education but we never had the means of enrolling our children, God has answered our prayers. The government is now feeding our children and it is also saving us money”.
I then realized that the problem had never been educating them because Nigeria has for long, been on free education but the problem rather was strategy used to lure them to benefit from the free education.
The National Home Grown School Feeding programme has not only increased child enrollment in schools. It has made studying easier and fun, fought hunger and malnutrition and also addressed the issue of unemployment by providing more than 107,000 people who serve as cooks with sustainable jobs. When unemployment is addressed, the rate of poverty is also being addressed. In Kano State alone, the number of school enrollment increased from 1.2 million to 2.1 million after the introduction of the programme by Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development in the State.
In 2010, the rate of School enrollment in Nigeria was 41.83% but in 2021, the gross enrollment rate in elementary schools in Nigeria stood at 68.3%. It made me say that our advocacy failed but Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development won the hearts of our children with an initiative from a generous woman like Sadiya Umar Farouq- a hot nutritious meal every school day.