NewsSchool Feeding Programme Yet To Take Off In Bayelsa Five Weeks After...

School Feeding Programme Yet To Take Off In Bayelsa Five Weeks After Flag-Off

GTBCO FOOD DRINL

July 06, (THEWILL) – Five weeks after the flag-off of the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) in Bayelsa State, the programme is yet to commence.

The immediate past Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Umar-Farouq, had on May 25, 2023, performed a symbolic flag-off of the programme, which pledged feeding of 59,000 pupils in 599 primary schools in Bayelsa.

Umar-Farouq had said that the NHGSFP was a component of the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) aimed at providing one free nutritious meal a day to pupils of primary 1 to 3 in public primary schools across the nation.

Checks in public primary schools in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, indicate that the feeding programme was yet to commence.

Some pupils in public primary schools in Yenagoa, who witnessed the May 25 flag-off, said they have been waiting for the food promised.

Sinivie John, a primary 3 pupil at St Mathias Primary School, Yenagoa, said that he had expected to have a taste of the food but expressed regret that the hope is dashed as he will no longer be eligible when he is promoted to primary 4 after the ongoing third term examinations.

Mr Richman Otobo, Chairman, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Bayelsa State chapter, noted that the high hopes of pupils and parents, who hailed the flag-off ceremony, have been dashed.

“The school feeding programme, which commenced in 2016, came late to Bayelsa and we thought that it is better late than never, but after more than one month of launch, nothing is happening.

“The NUT was part of the flag off and we had hopes that the feeding will enhance learning and bring relief to parents and the new and old pupils are disappointed. They may have diverted the funds and nothing is happening,” the NUT Chairman said.

Although Mr Gentle Emelah, Commissioner for Education, whose Ministry oversees the programme, declined to comment on the delay experienced, it was learnt that funds for the programme were yet to be released by the Federal Government.

Mr Emmanuel Benson, Focal Person for NSIP in Bayelsa, said that other components were currently running smoothly except the school feeding programme, which is yet to take off.

“The other social investment programmes being funded by the Federal Government are doing well in Bayelsa. We are eagerly awaiting the effective take off and a lot has been done already.

“It is a Federal Government funded programme domiciled in states and the Bayelsa Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Federal Government and both parties are working in harmony.

“Our appeal is to the Federal Government to release the funds for our children to join their peers across the nation in the nearest future. We also want the Bayelsa Government to sustain its support to the NSIP Secretariate in Bayelsa and enable us to overcome the teething problems of the school feeding,” Benson said.

Benson dismissed speculations that the funds for the Bayelsa school feeding have been diverted as the funds are supposed to go directly to the beneficiaries selected to provide services.

He explained that the governance process for NSIP is transparent and the beneficiaries get the funds by e-payment without any intermediary.

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