Mrs Ngozi Chukwude, the Abia Team Lead, National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme, says 197,140 pupils in 1,030 public primary schools in the state are currently benefitting from the programme.
Chukwude said this on Tuesday, while briefing newsmen in Umuahia on the ongoing biometric capturing and enumeration of benefittig pupils and schools in Abia.
She said the exercise was designed to enable the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to “verify, validate and analyse the data from Abia”.
“The essence of the capturing and enumeration of pupils and schools was to ensure transparency, accountability and sustainability of the programme,” she said.
Chukwude said the ministry would in October capture the schools that were missed out at the first instance in order to upgrade the number of schools from Abia.
She said the Federal Government initiated the programme in 2017 for pupils in primary one to three to cushion the effect of the harsh economy on parents and guardians.
She expressed joy that the objective of the programme was being realised.
According to her, the programme has not only helped to engage the food vendors profitably but provide them with more revenue windows.
She also said that the success of the programme had been emperically proved by the increase in enrollment in public primary schools across the country.
The Programme Manager, Abia School Feeding Programme, Mr Gabriel Ahuronye, who was part of the exercise, told newsmen that the state was getting N450 million monthly from the Federal Government for the programme.
Ahuronye said the state government introduced the programme in 2016 and that pupils were fed thrice in a week, including nursery and primary one to six.
He said the programme was later reviewed and limited to primary three to six in 2017, when the Federal Government introduced the school feeding scheme.
He said with the Federal Government’s scheme, Abia government now provided food stuffs and stipends to the vendors, through the Office of the Wife of the Governor, Mrs Nkechi Ikpeazu.
Trueverdict reports that the exercise was carried out in Ahieke Community Primary School and Ugba Community Primary School, both in Umuahia North Local Government Area of the state.
A cross-section of the teachers in the schools lauded the initiative, saying that it was impactful on the pupils, their parents and benefitting schools.
The Headmistress of Ahieke Community Primary School, Mrs Ezioma Nwachukwu, and a teacher, Princess Chukwuma, said the programme had shored up enrollment in public primary schools.
“We recorded substantial increase in the number of enrollment here, courtesy of the programme.
“It has also been a source of incentive to pupils to come to school regularly.
“They are always enthusiastic to come to school once they remember the meal,” Nwachukwu said.
They both encouraged the federal and state governments to sustain the programme.
They also advised parents to provide their children and wards with their plates to avoid the challenge where some pupils had to wait for their siblings to finish eating to be able to use the same plates.