The School Feeding Programme initiated by the Federal Government has impacted positively on school enrolment, attendance and retention across the country, thereby reducing school drop-outs to the barest minimum, a study from the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research, NISER, Ibadan has revealed.
This was the highlight of a presentation by the Social and Governance Policy Research Department of the Institute at this month’s NISER Research Seminar Lecture Series held yesterday.
Specifically, the study indicated that the implementation of the School feeding Programme has increased household enrolment in public primary schools in the North-East to 61.7% followed by South-West with 61.4%, North Central with 53.3%, North West with 53.2 and the FCT with 52.4% respectively.
“The study further shows that the implementation of School Feeding Programme has affected the development and health of the pupils in the community as indicated by 62.2%, 58.6%, 43.0%, 41.3%, 39.7%, 32.5% and 27.8% of the respondents in North West, FCT, North East, South West, South South, North Central and South East respectively,” the researchers noted.
In the presentation entitled: Prospects and Challenges of the Primary School Feeding Programme in Nigeria by Mr. Audu Wadinga, the research team submitted that development intervention such as the School Feeding Programme that target children are tools for eradicating chronic hunger and lifting poor households out of poverty trap.
“By investing in the health and nutrition of school-age children, a country can increase the human capital of its younger generation and achieve sustainable economic growth and human development,” the researchers remarked.
While noting that the programme is widely accepted and perceived by the public as relevant and are expectant that the programme would reduce the level of poverty of many households in Nigeria if truly implemented, the study attributed the failure of the initial programme in 2005/2006 to “instructional bottlenecks, lack of adequate and timely release of funds, inadequate monitoring and evaluation, poor logistics and infrastructural supports and lack of legal and policy framework”.
To this end, the NISER research team recommended that the Federal and State Governments should put in place legal and policy frameworks to guide implementation of the School Feeding Programme while urging States to mainstream its funding into their budget process and ensure timely payment to vendors, to ensure its sustainability.