By: Mayen Etim
KADUNA, North-West, Nigeria – The Federal Government Home Grown School Feeding Program, (HGSFP) in Kaduna state has been politicized in Jema’a Local Government Area of the state by politicians in the area.
This was disclosed by Field Monitors of a Non-Governmental Organisation, Connecting Gender for Development, (COGEN), who narrated some of the challenges facing the program at a Town Hall meeting held in Kafanchan, Jema’a LGA on Wednesday, July 4, 2018.
One of the monitors, Mr Monday John, alleged that some politicians in the area go about collecting money from food Vendors that they are not members of the ruling All Progressives Congress, (APC), saying they will be replace by their members since the program belongs to their party.
According to him, some members of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), have equally disallowed their wards from partaking in the feeding program because it belongs to the APC.
He described this development as serious, and urged those involved to desist from such act so as not to sabotage the programme.
Corroborating this, another monitor said in Kaura Local Government Area while interacting with pupils in schools they asked one of them if he was excited over the program, he said no. Asking further to know his reason, the pupil replied that the food given to them will corrupt their brain.
In the same vein another field monitor, Ms Rachael Musa also alleged that teachers are taking the rations meant for pupils in some schools in the area, hence, the ration do not usually go around.
She added that although every child was supposed to be given an egg once a week, the eggs do not usually go round because of short fall in supply; while some Vendors were discovered to be diverting crates of egg for personal use.
Similarly, the Assistant Head Teacher, Aduwan III Primary School, Mrs Esther Gushe,
confirmed that eggs were always in short supply in her school.
In his remarks, the representative of Education Secretary and Desk Officer, School Feeding Program in Jema’a LGA, Mr Yakubu Kyari, said he receives between 300 and 400 crates of egg weekly instead of the 730 crates for the 177 schools in the area.
He added that the number of crates of egg needed to be increased to meet up the increase in pupils enrolment in schools.
“Recently my team got a Vendor sharing an egg to five pupils and was reprimanded and she promised not to do it again. The following week when we visited the same school again we saw that the Vendor had complied. These are some of the challenges we are facing.
“Teachers eating up food meant for pupils have been warned to desist from the act or risk sanction,” he said.
Addressing participants at the meeting, Head of Programs of COGEN, Mr Ebenezer Omolekun, said that findings by the NGO revealed that one egg is being shared between two to four pupils in 46 schools.
He added that in some schools eggs are rationed such that if a pupil gets an egg this week, next week he or she will not be served an egg; while two pupils share juice and biscuit in 26 schools. Other schools rationed juice and biscuits in such a way that some pupils receive juice while others got biscuits.
He explained that the meeting with the theme, “Together We Can Build Our LGA and Make it More Prosperous,” was primarily organised to mobilise communities and stakeholders to monitor the implementation of the school feeding programme.
Omolekun said COGEN, with support from MacArthur Foundation is tracking the programme in 60 schools, 20 each in Kaura, Jema’a, and Zangon Kataf Local Government Areas of Kaduna State.
He added that similar town hall meetings were earlier organised in Kaura and Zangon Kataf to enlist community support in monitoring the programme; saying what COGEN want is to ensure transparency, accountability and responsiveness by all stakeholders involved in the programme.
Earlier, Chairman of the Local Council Mr Peter Averik, commended COGEN for supporting the Federal Government initiative and pledged his Council’s support as according to him, the programme is for the benefit of children and communities.
Speaking on behalf of the traditional leaders at the meeting, District Head of Ambam Kaninkon, Mr Hosea David, commended COGEN for creating the needed awareness on the programme and enlisting their support to ensure it success.
About 420 schools in the state are being tracked by five NGOs with support from MacArthur Foundation, namely; Action Aid Nigeria, Girl Child Concern, (GCC), Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria, (FOMWAN), and Nigeria Popular Theatre Alliance, (NPTA).