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INFLUENCE OF SCHOOL FEEDING PROGRAM ON PUPILS ENROLMENT, ATTENDANCE AND ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE IN PRIMARY SCHOOLS
1.1 Background to the Study
School feeding is simply the provision of food to children through schools. According to Oyefade (2014), different countries have one or a combination of the two feeding modalities in place for various objectives. However, they can be grouped into two broad categories: in-school meals and take-home rations where families are given food if their children attend school. Historically, in-school meals have been the most popular modality of school feeding interventions. The school feeding can be in turn grouped into two common categories: programme that provides meals and programme that provides high-energy biscuits or snacks to generate greater impacts on school enrolment, retention rates, and reduce gender or social gaps (Akanbi, 2013). Uduku, (2011) contended that there are `indications of a significant swing in thinking about school feeding and many elements of this new thinking are being promoted keenly under the rubric of “home grown school feeding”.
Each year, World Food Program provides millions of school children with food in the world as an incentive to lure children to school and maintain their attendance. The programme targets areas where enrolment ratios are lowest and which can have greatest effect towards improving education standards of the children (WFP, 1999). In 2001, WFP launched a global campaign to expand access to education for millions of children in the world. By then, there were 66 million school children attending school hungry in the world (World Food Program, 2001) According to Ahmed (2004), school meals increased pupils’ participation in school. Ahmed found that school feeding increased pupils’ enrolment, reduced dropout rate, increased attendance and improved performance in participating 2 schools as compared to their counterparts where no feeding programs were available.
School feeding programs constitute critical interventions that have been introduced in many developed and developing countries of the world to address the issue of poverty, stimulate school enrolment and enhance pupils’ performance. In developing countries, almost 60million children go to school hungry every day and about 40 percent of them are from Africa. Providing school meals is therefore vital in nourishing children. Parents are motivated to send their children to school instead of keeping them at home to work or care for siblings (Akanbi, 2013).The introduction of the school feeding is traced to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) initiative and several conferences held thereafter by African leaders which aimed to tackle issues, such as peace, security, good economic, political and corporate governance and to make the continent an attractive destination for foreign investment. Some of these developments include the ‘New Partnership for African Development’ which according to the blueprint is a pledge by African leaders, based on common vision and a firm and shared conviction, to eradicate poverty and to place their countries on the path of sustainable growth and development and, at the same time, to participate actively in the world economy and politics. Also, the ‘Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program and the ‘Millennium Hunger Task Force’ amongst others were initiatives which were designed to link school feeding to agricultural development through the purchase and use of locally produced food (Bundy et al, 2009).
Nigeria happened to be one of twelve (12) pilot countries invited to implement the programme. So far, Nigeria, Cote d’ivore, Ghana, Kenya and Mali commenced the implementation of the school feeding programme. As a result, the Federal Government came up with the Universal Basic Education Act in 2004, which provided the enabling legislative backing for the execution of the Home Grown School Feeding and Health Program. Towards the realization of the objectives of the Universal Basic Education program and the central role of nutrition, the Federal Ministry of Education launched the Home Grown School Feeding and Health Program in 2005. The overall goal of the School Feeding Program in Nigeria is to reduce hunger and malnutrition among school children and enhance the achievement of Universal Basic Education.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
School enrolment dropped in Nigeria’s primary school level from 10.5 million to 8.6 million across the country in 2017 according to statistics released by the Federal Ministry of Education recently. This was a significant improvement considering growing poverty in the country and resistance to education in some parts of the North. The increase in school enrolment at the primary level coincides with the introduction of school feeding program by the government in conjunction with some state governments.
Many parents who had hitherto failed to send their children to school are reportedly having a change of mind and have decided to send them to school because of the provision of a meal a day by the Federal Government in some schools across the country. It was equally learnt that in many cases, some parents are withdrawing their children from private schools to public schools to enable them benefit from the free school feeding program.
Ordinarily, the increase or rather the decrease in the out of schools enrolment should have been cheering news as it portends improvement in the quality of life expectancy and the desire of the country to fight poverty through education. However, the very scheme that seems to have spurred the increase in school enrolment in some parts of the country is gradually losing steam and may end up like any other government program due to huge corruption and lack of commitment on the part of the states and even the Federal Government to ensure the success of the scheme (Oludare 2018, https://punchng.com/school-enrolment-school-feeding-and-corruption)
Reports from many of the states that are currently executing the program showed a very dismal performance in the implementation of the program and the quality of the food being served the children by the vendors due to funding challenges. Often times, the quality of the food was poor, inadequate and not sufficient to go round the pupils that they were meant for.
In some cases, the vendors employed by the government to supply food to the participating schools were being shortchanged by the officials of state education ministry in charge of disbursement, while those who were sent to supervise the process were not committed to carry out their duty, this however aroused the interest of the researcher to find out the influence of school on not just students enrollment alone but also academic performance of students and class attendance of primary school pupils.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objectives of this study is to find out the influence of school on students enrollment, academic performance of students and class attendance of primary school pupils, specifically the study intends to;
1. Find out the influence of school feeding program on attendance and academic performance of students of students
2. Analyze the effect of school feeding program on pupil’s enrolment and academic performance in primary schools
3. Examine the challenges of Nigeria school feeding program and proffer solution