The Kano State Government has been accused of engaging in unhygienic serving of meals to pupils under the Federal Government’s National Home Grown School Feeding Programme.
The allegation was levelled by the National Social Investment Programme Office in a statement by its Programme Manager, Abimbola Adesanmi.
The statement reads: “The National Social Investment Programme Office (NSIO) has called on the Kano State Government to urgently address all hygiene and sanitation issues related to the implementation of the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) in that State.
“The call became necessary after our field monitors brought to our attention the incidence of feeding Kano State primary school pupils on pieces of paper, which disturbing information was immediately escalated to the Kano State Government. Soon after, a disturbing video surfaced on the social media showing pupils of a public school in Kano State being served their daily meals in this unhygienic and distressing manner.
“We have since engaged the Kano State Government and have been assured that immediate steps have been taken by the State to ensure that plates and cutlery are provided for serving the children their meals according to prescribed standards. Indeed, the State Governor and the Deputy Governor are overseeing this process and we have received the necessary assurances that these lapses shall be addressed before primary schools resume after the Eid break.
“We wish to assure all stakeholders that the Programme Monitoring team shall continuously visit Kano State primary schools unannounced to monitor compliance with set standards after the resumption of the school term, educational institutions having closed this week for the Eid holidays in that State. Monitoring visits shall continue unabated in other States also, to ensure compliance with set standards. We, however, appreciate feedback from the public as concerned citizens since Nigeria is such a diverse country and our teams are not able to be everywhere at the same time.
“It should be clarified that under the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme framework, it is the responsibility of the State Governments to facilitate the provision of sundry items such as plates and cutlery for the pupils, as the role of the Federal Government is to pay the cooks directly into their accounts after they have been carefully selected and on-boarded onto banks, and the data verified by NIBSS. The NSIO wishes to reiterate that the sanitation of the environment and hygienic standards in serving the pupils with the cooked food remain critical and cannot be compromised as the health and safety of the children are of paramount importance to the FGN.
“The National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme is currently offering free meals to almost 8.3million school children in 24 States across Nigeria. The incident in Kano, while distressing, remains the exception, rather than the norm. As we proceed to engage more States on the programme, we request for public diligence and feedback in the States where feeding has commenced, to preempt, prevent and curtail unsavoury incidents that have the potential of harming our children.”