- Alleged corruption marred scheme – Teachers
- Insecurity hampering food distribution – Commissioner
-By Ismail Auwal
Many pupils of primary schools in Kano State have stopped going to school since the State Government halted the N4.66 free school feeding programme launched across the state by the current administration, SahelianTimes can report.
Enrolment and attendance in primary schools across the state had significantly improved, following the introduction of the scheme during the second administration of Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, as the Governor of Kano State, from 2011 to 2015.
Investigations, however, revealed that, as the schools in Kano reopened on October 12, 2020, following the lifting of the state-wide movement restrictions, school attendance in primary schools immediately dropped.
The development, according to multiple sources, is traceable to the stoppage of school feeding scheme under the current administration of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje.
“The sudden drop in attendance can be linked to the government’s failure to continue with the free school feeding programme,” said a primary school teacher, who preferred not to be named.
Another teacher, who also craved anonymity for obvious reasons, said the feeding programme stopped due to corruption of the officials directly connected to distribution of the foodstuffs across the schools in the past.
Adamu Idris (not a real name), a teacher with Kaura Goje Special Primary School in Kano, told SahelianTimes how corruption marred the school feeding programme.
He said that, “most of the school headmasters used to divert the foodstuffs made for the students for their personal use. Even though the food is mostly not enough to cater for our large number of students, it has helped in raising attendance in recent past.”
The teacher said, “we mostly feed the boys for a day, and girls the next, due to the insufficiency of the foodstuffs.”
The teacher insisted that chains of corruption in the past have stopped the ongoing feeding project.
Parents and wards of the pupils told SahelianTimes that, “the thought of our children can have their breakfast in schools usually encouraged us to send them to school.”
Mallam Sanusi, a father of three said, “We use to wake up in the morning without food to eat, and you cannot send children to school without food.”
“The children have to wait for me, to go and bring food for them to eat, and before I come back, they will be late for school. One has no option than to ask them to stay behind at home,” he added.
Another parent, who is identified simply as Hajara said, “we mostly depend on these children to go out in the morning to sell seasoning products for us to eat breakfast.”
“Knowing that they can get food in school and still learn something, made me sacrifice my morning food for my children to get an education,” she added.
Records available to SahelianTimes show that Governor Ganduje re-launched the free school feeding programme in November 2019 to compliment for pupils in primary four to six to enhance school enrolment and improves pupil’s wellbeing.
The move by the governor was said to have complimented the Federal Government’s effort for free school feeding scheme for pupils from primary one to three.
During the re-launching of the feeding programme in November last year at Jigirya Primary School, Kano, Ganduje said that, “the school feeding programme for pupils in primary four to six was aimed at enhancing school enrolment and improving their wellbeing.”
Ganduje noted that, “The programme is part of our administration’s free and compulsory education policy, which targets the vulnerable children, the girl-child education and integration of Qur’anic education.”
“This programme must be sustained through transparency and accountability in the system because of its importance. That is why we have set up a Community Promotion Committee (CPC) to ensure thorough supervision of the scheme’s implementation,” he added.
The Federal Government, through its school feeding programme, is already providing food for primary one to three pupils when the state government launched the extended school feeding programme to cover primary four to six.
Meanwhile, when contacted by SahelianTimes, the state Commissioner of Education, Muhammad Sanusi Kiru, blamed the abrupt halting of the programme on the recent warehouse looting that happened in some states in Nigeria.
“It will be difficult for us to move foodstuff items across the state due to the warehouse looting and vandalism and general insecurity going on across the states. We mostly moved the stuffs in the night to avoid being attacked by hoodlums,” he added.
The commissioner further stated that Governor Ganduje “on September 2020 has approved N4.66 billion for school feeding programme of primary and secondary school pupils.”
But teachers in the state have countered the commissioner’s claim, arguing that there was no single warehouse looting or cases of vandalism in Kano State to have warranted the state government’s inability to move foodstuffs round the schools within the state.
“We stopped receiving foodstuffs several months before Kano was locked down due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic,” said a teacher, who anonymously responded to the commissioner’s claim, because he was not authorized to speak on the development.
Independent findings by SahelianTimes also revealed that there has never been report of warehouse vandalism or looting anywhere across the state contrary to state commissioner’s claim of fear of being attacked by hoodlums in the course of distributing the foodstuffs as an excuse for State Government’s halting of the feeding programme.