By; Niyi Ogungbola, Abeokuta.
The Home Grown School feeding programme aimed at providing balanced diets for primary school pupils across the country had been flagged off in Ogun State.
The State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun at the occasion tagged “Ogun Meals” in Abeokuta, said the provision of meals to primary one to three pupils would improve their performance and health status as well as increase the enrolment figure in public primary schools and reduce the propensity for absenteeism among them.
The Governor, represented by his deputy, Chief (Mrs) Yetunde Onanuga, said his administration remained committed to affordable and qualitative education which according to him explained the reason it allocated the highest percentage of the budget to the education sector.
He added that for his administration to achieve its set goals in the sector, it must take the well-being of the pupils seriously in order to boost their academic performance.
“Qualitative education and the well-being of the pupils are two sides of the same coin that any responsive government must take seriously; we always say that the education of the youth guarantees the future in any society. In fact, you cannot teach a hungry child successfully’’.
‘’It has been discovered that there is a major connection between school enrolment, academic performance, school attendance, literacy level and adequate nutrition” he revealed.
Amosun affirmed that the programme will ensure a balanced diet at least one per day for primary 1-3 pupils in all the 1,554 primary schools, starting with 874 schools in the state, assuring that the remaining 680 would soon be added to the list of benefiting schools as the programme would enhance improved nutritional health of the kids.
While explaining that the State has a robust plan in place for the sustainability of the programme, Amosun noted that the required standard for hygiene, quality and quantity of food expected to be given to the pupils have been clearly spelt out, adding that the programme had helped in reducing unemployment rate in the state with 2,968 women already employed as food vendors.
Speaking on behalf of the National Programme Manager, Secretary to the State Government, Barr. Taiwo Adeoluwa commended President Buhari for the initiative, stating that farmers and other allied service providers have been empowered through the programme in order to fully explore agricultural value chain.
In her remarks, the Programme Manager, Mrs. Tinuola Shopeju, said the programme was a social intervention project designed to create safety net for the most vulnerable in the society, adding that the programme would operate through carefully selected and trained vendors equipped with strict time table of nutritious food that could be easily sourced at the local markets.