By: Mayen Etim
KADUNA, North-West, Nigeria – The Kaduna State Commissioner for Education, Dr. Shehu Makarfi, on Tuesday, warned that government will deal with any Education Secretary who extorts and interfere with the Home Grown School Feeding Program, (HGSFP), of the Federal Government in the state.
He gave the warning at a Grassroots Summit on HGSFP organized by a Non-Governmental Organization, Connecting Gender for Development, (COGEN), in Kaduna.
The Commissioner said that government will not fail to discipline any erring ES found interfering in the program by randomly changing cooks or stop them, or collecting money for whatever reasons from cooks.
According to him, what is expected of the Local Government Education Secretaries, (ES), is to facilitate the program to ensure it works, listen to complaints and report, and also take necessary action for sustainability of the program in the state.
“Government will not allow this to continue but will certainly stop the act and discipline erring secretary through disciplinary procedure,” he charged.
The Commissioner said that what government was doing is to make sure people get value for money the FG is committing into the program, and also ensure that communities, School Based Management Committees, (SBMCs), Head teachers, PTAs, CBOs, media; among others participated to ensure the effective monitoring and bring up information that could help sustain the program.
Speaking on some of the cooks who have done exceptionally well in the program, Dr. Makarfi said subsequently such cooks would be identified and motivated by government.
“A cook who is assigned 100 pupils to feed but ended up feeding 150 of them is quite encouraging and such needed to be identified and motivated,” he said.
Also speaking, the Program Manager, National Home Grown School Feeding Program, (NHGSFP) in Kaduna State, Mr. Musa Ibrahim, said the state was among the first states to embrace the FG re-introduced HGSFP which commenced in July 2016/2017 school season and has continued to be on board.
He disclosed that the HGSFP in Kaduna has continued to stimulate local agricultural produce thereby boosting income of local farmers and creating viable markets; and as well increase number of pupils in some schools above the number originally assigned to cooks.
According to him, some challenges the program is facing in the state include: cases of unidentified cooks while in other instances, some cooks receive payments but do not cook; inconsistent data in schools/LGEAs; inconsistence in payments made to cooks as well as issues at the Bank, First City Monument Bank.
Others are; cooks assigned to schools faraway from their places of residence; lingering problem of insufficiency of eggs; connivance with some LGEAs staff especially School Support Officers (SSOs) and even SBMCs to engage in sharp practices resulting in denying pupils meals; husbands forcefully collecting money meant for feeding from their wives, among others.
In charting a way forward, the state Program Manager, said that an upgrade on pupils enrolment is almost concluded for submission to the National Social Investment Office, (NSIO); and continued sensitization and capacity building for all stakeholders involved in the program at all levels.
It would be recalled that in 2018, five NGOs funded by MacArthur Foundation were enlisted to track the program implementation in Kaduna State in 420 schools of 16 LGAs. COGEN is tracking 60 schools across three LGAs of Kaura, Jema’a and Zango Kataf.