Whenever a new policy is doled out by the government, more questions are raised than the praises.
Many of us tend to look at the loopholes of these policies to ascertain its practicality. Our reasons for such initial scepticism are not far-fetched. There is a huge mistrust and that informs the widespread criticisms of many- if not all- government policies.
The School-feeding programme initiative by the Buhari-led administration is one of such. When the programme was first launched, those who were convinced it was a great step lauded it to high heavens and like always, many of us had our genuine reservations. The supporters argued that, judging from the widespread poverty bedeviling the country, such a programme would help in ameliorating the effects of poverty. The ‘loopholes seeker’ opined that it would not solve much. Afterall, just some public primary schools from Basic 1-3 are the focus of the scheme.
It is nothing short of a truism that many parents- even the (very) poor ones- tend to avoid enrolling their wards in government owned primary schools. The age-old image of such schools accounts for this. Although not all the private schools near being called ‘top-notch’ , parents still prefer them. Reasons such as reduced population; close-watch of pupils and nearness to the parent’s residences necessitate such decisions by the parents.
Despite this shortcoming, the government has kick-started the school-feeding programme in public schools across all states in Nigeria. Although many still doubt if it is without glitches, the pictures of school children eating which are being posted on social media passes the narrative that indeed the programme is ongoing in some/all states of the Federation.
However, the lockdown imposed on schools have forced the federal government to change its mode of operation. President Muhammadu Buhari, during one of his nationwide address, disclosed that the School-feeding programme would not be halted despite the pupils not being in school. Based on President Buhari’s directive, it would be more apt to rename the scheme ‘The Home Schoolchildren Feeding Programme’.
Even though the President directive appears pro-people, it has raised loads of questions: how would it be done?; would the food be given on a daily basis?; are there provisions for parents of these pupils as well?; what is the fate of ‘more poor’ kids attending a ‘ply-wood’ built school prior to the lockdown?; what of those attending a ‘₦20 per day’ school in their poor neighbourhoods?; would this not end up being another grand avenue for some few persons to get rich on ‘government money?’ The questions are indeed enormous.
In allaying the fears raised by the people as captured in some of the aforementioned questions, the federal government has invited civil society groups and the anti-graft commissions to monitor the distribution of these ‘schoolchildren palliatives’. But can this solve all the questions raised? Many would think otherwise. One consensus that could be reach, however, is that home Schoolchildren Feeding Programme may not be very effective. Perhaps the lexeme ‘School children Feeding’ itself should be replaced with ‘Homes feeding’ for now. This is because the food items to be distributed are meant for the homes and not solely the children(to sound very practical).
The Lagos State Universal Basic Education Booard (SUPEB) has stated that it already identified 37,589 homes to be used for the pilot scheme. The board disclosed that 5kg of rice, 5kg of beans, 2 rolls of sachet tomato paste, 500ml of palm oil and groundnut oil, salt and 12 eggs would be distributed to these homes so as to feed the Schoolchildren. The big question however still remains ‘Will feeding Schoolchildren from Home work?
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