Some pupils of public primary schools in Anambra State have reportedly rejected rightful advancement in their academic journey in order to escape the pangs of hunger.
The Programme Manager of the National Homegrown School Feeding Scheme in Anambra State, Mrs Eriken Uzoamaka disclosed this in Awka on Thursday.
She said the students rejected their earned promotion to senior classes, just to qualify for the school feeding programme of the federal government.
The feeding programme is mainly for pupils from primary one to primary three. Mrs Eriken said the finding was that some pupils reject promotion to primary four because they want to remain in classes where they can be fed.
Eriken who spoke during a two-day capacity-building workshop on Enhancing Social Protection Programme in Nigeria, a programme organised by the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), said the challenge would be resolved once the menu of the higher classes are improved.
“We serve rich food to pupils in classes 1 to 3 as captured in the national home-grown school feeding scheme. That is why even those that agree to be promoted, usually come to their junior class (primary 3) especially on Wednesdays to struggle for food with others. We serve beans and plantains (or sweet potatoes) that day.
“We are appealing to the Anambra State government to support the programme by feeding pupils from primary 4 to six, and probably include feeding of preprimary school pupils to curb the challenges and increase more numbers of pupils in public schools,” she added.
Eriken explained that the programme in Anambra State has been facing some challenges including a hike in prices of commodities, and the death of 10 cooks in the programme, since its inception in 2016.
“Since the inception of the programme in 2016, about 10 cooks have died and it is affecting the programme in some schools. It is only the nation that can recruit and replace them, we have no right to replace them but we have written to inform the national body but they are yet to be replaced.
“Another challenge is the high cost of food items in the country, it is affecting the programme and the quality of food given to the children. The cooks are really complaining and the high cost of food items is making it difficult for them to give us adequate meals per child.