At­tracts pupils to schools in Gombe

Weekly Trust - - News - Haruna Gimba Yaya, Gombe

The Na­tional Home Grown School Feed­ing Pro­gramme launched by the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment un­der the Na­tional So­cial In­vest­ment Pro­gramme (NSIP) in Gombe State has re­sulted in in­crease in school at­ten­dance of pri­mary schools pupils in the state.

Our cor­re­spon­dent, who vis­ited three pri­mary school in Tumu, Pindiga, and Kashere towns in Akko Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area, re­ports that since the in­tro­duc­tion of the pro­gramme, chil­dren who or­di­nar­ily do not go to school now will­ingly do so daily.

When the pro­gramme was launched in March 2018, its tar­get was to pro­vide meals for about 286, 000 pupils in 1, 209 pri­mary schools across the state. How­ever, a month into the pro­gramme, it has wit­nessed an as­tro­nom­i­cal in­crease, and now feed­ing about 400, 000 pupils.

Head teach­ers at the re­spec­tive schools said prior to the com­mence­ment of the pro­gramme, a lot of pupils had dropped out.

Malam Hay­atu Gal­adima, Head­mas­ter of Cen­tral Pri­mary School Tumu, said the de­vel­op­ment was heart­warm­ing. “Ini­tially, there were 800 pupils but the num­ber has in­creased to 1,000 fol­low­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of the school feed­ing pro­gramme,” he said.

He said he had en­sured that seven food ven­dors posted to his school pro­vided stan­dard meals as agreed in the terms of con­tract.

Head­mas­ter of Cen­tral Pri­mary School Kashere, Malam Hu­saini Yakubu, also said his school had about 750 pupils but the fig­ure has in­creased to about 1,250 pupils.

Malam Abubakar Sark­inFu­lani, who is in charge of Cen­tral Pri­mary School, Pindiga, said some pupils who dropped out of school have re­turned, just as par­ents are now ea­ger to en­roll their chil­dren be­cause of the feed­ing ar­range­ment.

“Some of the pupils troop to the school even without uni­forms, ea­gerly await­ing break time for the free meal.”

A Pri­mary 3 pupil, Aishatu Ab­dul­lahi, said since the be­gin­ning of the pro­gramme, some of her class­mates that hith­erto were not com­ing to school, have re­turned, while Ibrahim Tukur, a pri­mary 1 pupil, said most of his friends are now reg­u­lar in school.

“The food is de­li­cious; I and my friends no longer miss classes, es­pe­cially be­fore break time,” he said.

How­ever, the ma­jor chal­lenge is the sus­te­nance of the pro­gramme to en­cour­age the pupils to re­main in school, be­cause some of them leave the schools soon af­ter the meal is served.

An­other chal­lenge is that the in­crease in pupils’ pop­u­la­tion has made the food to be in­suf­fi­cient in some schools.

Ac­cord­ing to Fa­tima Us­man, a food ven­dor at the Cen­tral Pri­mary School Pindiga, she was paid to pro­vide food for a class of 120 pupils, “but now the pupils are over 150 in the class.”

Our cor­re­spon­dent ob­served that the pupils are served yam and beans on Mon­days, Macaroni and egg on Tues­days, rice and beans on Wed­nes­days, spaghetti and beans on Thurs­days and macaroni and eggs on Fri­days.

The Fo­cal Per­son of the NSIP in Gombe, Ha­jiya Maryam Isa Mele, said her of­fice is work­ing tire­lessly to en­sure that the food ven­dors pro­vide qual­ity and healthy meals.

“I re­cently went round some schools to mon­i­tor the pro­gramme. We took their com­plaints, es­pe­cially the in­crease in the num­ber of en­roll­ment and at­ten­dance, which makes the food to be in­suf­fi­cient some­times. We will write to the na­tional of­fice for pos­si­ble in­crease of funds,” she said.

ob­served that the in­crease in en­roll­ment has over stretched fa­cil­i­ties at the schools, with some of the pupils sit­ting on bare floors. A class meant to cater for 70 pupils now ac­com­mo­dates over 150, mak­ing learn­ing dif­fi­cult.

Pupils of Tumu Cen­tral Pri­mary School dur­ing break time

Pupils of Pindiga Pri­mary School eat­ing their break­fast

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