“Education is freedom from want and the provision of free basic education in decent schools, with skilled teachers. This is one of the priorities this government will accomplish in its four-year term.” Nasir Elrufai October, 2015. ?
When, of recent the free feeding program in schools in kaduna state commenced, there is a state-wide jubilation by both parents and pupils, because this singular act of Elrufai has lifted a huge burden from the many parents in the state.
In fact most of us do not seem to understand the depth of Elrufai’s reasoning on this program and his vision, which is firmly rooted in the philosophy of making Kaduna great again.
Of course feeding school children is part of the mantra, but its value chain is more important as it is the value chain that will make Kaduna great again in all facets.
Let’s start from the economic view
We have about 1.8 Million children across the 4,000 schools, and about 3,200 cooks were employed into this program. Also based on the varieties of food to be served from Monday to Friday, we have items to be needed such as: Yams, Eggs, Tomatoes, Vegetables, Onions, Groundnut oil/palm oil Salt, Firewood, Maggi, Peppers, Fish, Rice, Beans.
Ok now, for us to understand the value-chain we will take a day, for example when Yam and sausage is to be served. It means that an aggregate of tubers of yams for 1.8 million pupils will be bought in the market for that day alone. Also eggs for 1.8 million pupils will be bought; tomatoes and peppers will also be bought. This means the sellers of these particular items will make sales; the transporter will also benefit, the firewood sellers, Salt and groundnut oil sellers will benefit also.
Also the day rice and fish is to be served or beans and spinach will be served, all these market activities pertaining such items will take place. It was mandated that also that each pupil is to bear one cooler for the food. If 1.8 million coolers are bought from market, you can imagine the profit margin of those coolers from their sellers.
With this type of market activities that is stimulated by the catering vendors employed for this single purpose of feeding, it is certain that there will be an expansion of microeconomics of the state.
It is equally certain that in the next four years to come, many people in this chain distribution will become millionaires. It is not magic but a foresight and pragmatism. And lucky us as we are endowed with a governor with such acumen and ability. And introducing this program is one of the Elrufais pragmatic approaches to creating job opportunities, reducing poverty, empowering women, increasing the state’s GDP, creating millionaires etc.
From the nutritional view:
Based on the rigorous study on child performance in school by the UN organs such as UNICEF, World Bank UNESCO, Food Commission and others, there has been a consensus that “Good nutrition in school improves child well-being and learning ability, leading to better academic performance”. Good nutrition also fosters mental, social and physical well-being, contributing to increased self esteem and positive body image.
However also, the study shows the links between the low educational developments in African countries (especially in Nigeria) and malnourishment of pupils at their formative ages. There is no wonder that we are suffering from depletion of human capital in the whole country.
But with this program now, there is no doubt that the literacy level of our schools will increase, and it is about time that other governors copy this free feeding program from Elrufai. Instead of them to always pay for their students WAEC and NECO fees but at the end of the day almost all the students fail. The rate of WAEC/NECO failure can only be remedied through this program.
And no wonder me too, I’d became a constant failure in my mathematics class because at my primary school I missed all the nutritional food that can make my brain to become sharp.
Mukhtar Garba Maigamo,
A Public Commentator is with Unity Bank Plc Kakuri Branch Kaduna. 08066792996