By Anayo Okoli
UMUAHIA—IN an effort to encourage pupils, especially the vulnerable ones to go to school, the Abia State Government has extended its free school feeding programme to cover all primary school pupils in the state by including pupils of primaries 4 to 6 in the programme.
Hitherto, the programme was limited to only pupils in primaries 1 to 3 but was last week extended to pupils of primaries 4 to 6.
The government said the decision was informed by the fact that the first phase covering pupils in primaries 1 to 3 has positively boosted the primary school enrolment in the state from 100, 000 to over 300, 000, with the vulnerable ones benefitting immensely.
Flagging off the primary 4 to 6 programme at Ubakala Central School in Umuahia South Council, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu commended the Federal Government for the initiative to feed primary pupils 1 to 3, which he said has greatly benefited the vulnerable pupils.
According to him, the government decided to extend the programme to pupils in primaries 4 to 6 because of the desire to ensure that pupils focus their attention on learning, noting that there is a direct relationship between well fed pupils and the capacity to learn as against hungry pupils that find it difficult to concentrate.
Ikpeazu said that it is imperative to mainstream school feeding as a policy of his government, which he said informed the decision to open warehouses in the three senatorial zones where food items can be donated for the success of the programme.
He commended his wife, Deaconess Nkechi Ikpeazu and her team for sustaining the programme, saying that the programme has moved school enrolment in the state from 100, 000 to over 300,000 and called on well meaning Abians to donate towards the programme.
In her remarks, Deaconess Ikpeazu whose office coordinates the programme, expressed happiness with the progress recorded by the programme and thanked all those who have supported the programme so far.
The Focal person of the Abia Social Re-investment Programme, Mr. Chinenye Nwogu disclosed that the state expends the sum of N176 million monthly in feeding the over 300,000 primary school pupils, saying that the programme has impacted positively on the vulnerable in society.