From the dismal school feeding programme to the phantom recruitment of 500,000 teachers, FELIX KHANOBA writes on some of the Federal Government’s education programmes and projects that ended up delivering little or nothing in 2016.
School feeding programme
Despite optimism that the Home Grown School Feeding Programme (HGSF) initiated by the Federal Government will improve the health of children and boost enrolment across primary schools in 2016, the well- publicised programme could not lived up to its billing.
Apart from not curtailing the number of out-of-school children in the country that increased to almost 12 million in 2016, the school feeding scheme, which is part of the N500 billion funded Social Investment Programme, failed to gain ground in states except Osun and Kano States that had earlier introduced similar programme.
Though Anambra, Kaduna and few other states have also embraced the scheme which targets free meals for 24 million pupils in class 1 to 3 in public primary schools, the recent suspension of the programme in Kaduna State appears to have given credence to those who believe it was already doomed before its start as most basic educational programmes ‘super-imposed’ by the Federal Government always receive cold reception from state governments.
“Past experiences have shown that education programmes that require counterpart funding or collaboration from states always find it difficult to sail through, and the same fate is what is befalling the school feeding programmes,” an educationist, Mr Akin John, said.
He listed such struggling programmes to include the Almajiri education scheme, school/pupils census exercise, the seeming reluctance of most states in accessing the fund in the coffers of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), among others.
Though stakeholders believe that school feeding programme, which aims to provide free school meals with food procured from local small holder farmers, was well-conceived, the inability to achieve its results in 2016 has left many to question the seriousness and sincerity of government.
500, 000 teachers’ recruitment exercise
The announcement of the plan to recruit 500,000 teachers by the present administration in no little way ignited hope that the issue of lack of adequate teachers in most public schools across the country would be a thing of the past.
Despite the meagre N30, 000 monthly stipend that was earmarked for the social investment teacher corps initiative, millions of applicants left no stone unturned to land the two-year volunteer job.
Though the recruitment for the scheme was being handled by the office of the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osibanjo, the setting up of a committee by the Minister of State for Education, Prof Anthony Anwukah, to fashion out modalities for the posting of the graduate teachers fuelled expectations of many that the programme has come to stay, even as many applicants who tried to outsmart each other to get the job ended up in the hands of swindlers.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan, had to raise alarm over fake employment letters on the teaching job purportedly from the ministry being sold by fraudsters. But that came too late as many applicants were defrauded with the fake employment letters issued by some individuals who claimed to be staff of the ministry.
However, despite the hassles and pains passed through by applicants, the ‘N-Power’ teaching job scheme has yet to come into force.
Apart from the inability of the programme to take-off even after the Federal Government announced the recruitment of 200,000 successful applicants for the whole N-Power programme, that also cut across agriculture, many believe the planned recruitment of 500,000 teachers was just another wild goose chase by the government.
National library project
The national library complex is one of the many projects inherited from the past administration, which many had thought would finally be completed in 2016 since the major construction work was completed about two years ago.
But despite receiving over N203 million as of October 2016 from its total budget of N1.4 billion for capital projects, the National Library of Nigeria has nothing to show concerning efforts towards completing the project.
Located in the heart of the Federal Capital Territory, the project which was initially billed for completion in Nigeria’s centenary year of 2014, has suffered massive delays.
But many say the library project, which witnessed tremendous progress between 2012 and 2014, may have also become a casualty of the present economic recession, hence, the hope of completing the edifice any time soon may just be another tall dream.