The Federal Government has unveiled its plan to boost enrolment in schools through its National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP).
The government also attributed the hitches witnessed by the programme to the outbreak of Coronavirus.
However, for proper coordination and implementation, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq inaugurated a multi-sectoral committee to address the needs and demands of the children and other relevant stakeholders.
The minister, who was represented by the National Coordinator of the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), Dr. Umar Bindir, said the committee is expected to come up with strategies that would further reduce the number of out-of-school children.
“Food has demonstrated that it is a magnet and we have decided to use it as a tool to attract children to school.
“We have discovered that if we introduce food to schools, all the children that are out of school because their parents cannot afford school fees and other reasons will be attracted to the food and while doing that, we will increase the enrolment and increase learning.
“So, we hope that the enrolment increases and we also hope that the passing rate will increase. That is how we intend to solve the out-of-school rate and the failure rate that we are witnessing.”
On the status of the programme, she said: “You know, COVID-19 did not encourage schools to continue because it discouraged large gatherings. The virus dislocated the implementation of the programme but now that things are easing down and schools are reopening, as we speak, the continuation of the programme is ongoing and many states have recommenced the feeding programme and it is expanding every day.
“We have about 10 million that are benefiting in the programme but because the programme is expected to encourage enrolment, as we move, we are expected to have more children because Nigeria has approximately 13.2 million children out-of-school.
“So, this programme is expected to reduce the number of out-of-school children and we hope the number of children between primary 1-3 that we are feeding increases”.
The committee comprises representatives from the ministries of women affairs, finance, budget and national planning, health, agriculture and rural development, education, water resources, industry trade and investment, information, culture and tourism, National Bureau of Statistics, and Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC).