The Borno State government says it has set up various mechanisms, including using pupils as spies, to help catch those diverting food meant for the public school feeding programme.
Governor Kashim Shettima disclosed this when he inaugurated a special committee to handle an improved feeding of pupils and students across 78 secondary schools in the state.
At the event Mr Shettima said he “plans to engage undisclosed pupils as spies” who will be sending him messages via telephone and social media platforms to give hint on the quality of meals being served at dining halls.
It is not clear if the primary school pupils would be equipped with smart phones and data to carry out the assignment.
The special committee is chaired by the Commissioner for Education, Musa Kubo, an experienced school administrator, who will be working with representatives of the Parents Teachers Association, the Nigeria Union of Teachers and other stakeholders.
Governor Shettima’s decision to engage children as undercover agents was followed his recent unscheduled visit to a secondary school during where he went straight to the kitchen only to discover that meals being served fell short of the standard he prescribed back in since 2012.
Shortly after assuming office as governor, Mr. Shettima increased the monthly allocation of boarding school pupils’ feeding from N20 million which he inherited to N100 million.
The 17-member feeding committee is responsible for procurement of food stuff, distribution to schools, monitoring of cooking and quality of meals and supervision of efficient distribution of reasonable portions to pupils.
But the governor said he would not give the committee all the free hand like he did in the past.
“Apart from approving funds, I will also help you to do your job,” he said.
“Do not feel that I am being suspicious. As you all know, I do visit schools but this time around, I will give some students (you will never know) my phone numbers to communicate directly with me to give me regular updates on the quality of meals they are being served henceforth.
“You as committee members should address the principals and call them to order. I will urge you to directly procure the foodstuff and give it to the principals of our respective boarding secondary schools.
“And it is within your mandate to hire and pay the salaries of cooks where there are shortages of kitchen personnel. I want all of you to work hard and identify some sacrificial lambs. I want you to deal with two or three principals who shortchange pupils in their feeding.
“As I have always said, education is very important to the development of any society and we owe an obligation to humanity, to posterity to fix public schools in Borno. With the way we are building schools, some people would feel we are crazy because they forget that Boko Haram has taken our education backward and created thousands of school aged out of school children.
“We are buying lands, we are buying premises and building schools on them and we will make these schools function effectively,” the governor said.
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