Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola has said his joy will know no bounds if the state’s school feeding programme is adopted throughout the country.
The governor listed the advantages of feeding pupils once a day as an investment for promoting agriculture and the surest way to ensure food security, among others.
Aregbesola spoke recently in Osogbo, the state capital, when he hosted Prof. Don Bundy of the World Bank. The global bank official hailed the governor for moving with the global trend of feeding pupils. He said the programme is a near universal programme with 317 million school children being fed worldwide.
Speaking at a technical meeting on Osun Elementary School Feeding and Health programme (O-MEALS) held at the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding in Osogbo, Aregbesola said a well fed and healthy child has the first requirement for life.
The governor noted that such a child would be in the best position to acquire the education needed to face the future.
He added that the programme was part of efforts to aid the decision to revive heightened interest in access to education at the foundation level.
Aregbesola said: “School feeding programme helps education and indeed governance because it integrates at least four areas of governance with education. These are agriculture, health, job creation and local empowerment. “By reviving and modernising farming, we will also be solving the chronic problem of unemployment. We do know that agriculture, along with its agribusiness offshoots, has one of the biggest potential for job creation.
“Here in Osun, we have modelled our O’MEALS in consonance with these principles. The programme is being implemented with the legal framework of the Universal Basic Education Act, which provides for each elementary pupil in the state’s schools to be provided with a meal a day, at the minimum.”
Aregbesola added that 3,007 community food vendors were employed and empowered with tools and funds to make the recommended menu available to each pupil.
Prof. Bundy said what the World Bank team had learnt was more than what it knew about the school feeding programme elsewhere. He said the global bank was looking forward to extending the programme to other states.
The global bank official stressed that the school feeding programme should not be seen as a charity but a sound investment programme which the poorest of families benefit from.
Prof Bundy said: “School feeding is not unusual; it is a near universal programme. Every school day, 317 million students are fed worldwide.
“We have heard issues about the business aspect in Osun. This will improve the health of the children. Aside from health, the education aspect is more important. The provision of meal will help parents to send their children to school. Five meals in a week helps poor families.”