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Nigeria: Launch of the home-grown school feeding programme
This new programme is expected to improve the nutritional status of school children, as well as increase their enrolment, retention and completion rate in primary schools, and therefore contribute to Nigeria Universal Basic Education Programme. In its pilot phase, the school feeding programme will benefit to 2.5 million pupils in twelve different States of the Federation. Although about 25 million children are enrolled in schools in Nigeria, another 7.3 million children are out of schools, of whom a majority are girls. There are still many challenges for the country to reach the Universal Primary Education, the second Millenium Development Goal.
The school feeding programme will be a complementary initiative to UNICEF's current education programme, which focus on both girls' education and the promotion of child-friendly schools. It will enhance the multi-sectoral approach to schooling that UNICEF is supporting. UNICEF with the Federal Ministry of Education and the funding of DFID, is currently implementing a large scale programme to accelerate girls' education in the Northern part of Nigeria. UNICEF has also been a major advocate for the concept of Child Friendly Schooling for all Nigerian children since 2002 and has assisted government in pioneering nearly 300 Child Friendly schools across all states. The Child Friendly School is a well managed school with a safe learning conducive environment, with access to adequate water and sanitation, with effective well trained teachers, with gender sensitive learning and teaching material.
Before formally launching the school feeding programme, President Obasanjo declared: “I foresee a day when Nigeria will be a nation with well-nourished and healthy children, happy and eager to attend school and complete their basic education in a friendly, conducive, attractive and stimulating learning environment.”
Kuje school, where the launch took place, is one of the best examples of the child-friendly school environment, which UNICEF would like to see spread all over Nigeria . Through UNICEF private sector partnership with British Airways, the school benefited from the construction of 41 classrooms, one library, a science laboratory and a computer room, as well as water and sanitation facilities, including two boreholes and two toilets blocks. Other contributions include a drainage system, landscaping of the school grounds, football and volley-ball pitches and the provision of furniture, books, science equipment and computers. The school also serves as a training centre for teachers from other schools to ensure that the benefits of the Child Friendly School concept reach as many schools and children as possible.