Friday, April 24, 2015

Osun State may stop free feeding of school children

Osun meal
The Osun State Government is considering a review of its policy of free feeding of primary school pupils in the state.

Governor Rauf Aregbesola had set up a committee to work out how to implement the review of this policy.

The nine-member committee, which is also working on the review of the state’s free health programme for children and the elderly, may recommend that parents be made to pay a little levy for each  child in  school.

The committee comprises permanent secretaries in the state and a Level 17 officer, who is a director.

Labour leaders in the state recommended the review of the free feeding policy alongside others to save money for payment of salaries of civil servants and to carry out developmental projects.

The Aregbesola government has, for almost six months, been unable to pay workers salaries, a development it blames on dwindling allocation from the Federal Government.

Deputy Governor, Titi Laoye-Tomori, had said last year that the “school feeding meals cost government of the State of Osun N3.6bn annually.”

In December 2014, the All Progressives Congress in the state said the allocation accruing to the state had fallen from N3.8bn per month to N1.3bn.

Following agitations by civil servants over the non-payment of their salaries, Aregbesola   challenged labour leaders in the state to suggest how his administration could generate more funds to meet its obligations.

The labour leaders consequently came up with a report containing   recommendations for the review of the policies.

The report, dated December 15, 2014 and sighted by The PUNCH,  was signed by the Chairman of the Joint Public Service Negotiating Councils,  Bayo Adejumo; the Chairman of Trade Union Congress in the state, Francis Adetunji; and the Chairman,  Nigeria Labour Congress in the state, Saka Adesiyan.

The secretary of the JNC, R. A . Adeyemi; TUC Secretary, Kayode Adepoju, and the secretary of the NLC, G. A. Bolarinwa, also signed the report.

It was learnt that the labour leaders came up with the recommendations after interactive sessions with workers.

In the report, they recommended the introduction of Parent/Teacher Association levy to be paid by every primary and secondary school pupil.

The report read in part, “We have to appreciate the government for its programmes on free health, education and free meal, etc while the economy was buoyant to some extent.

“Now that the situation has reached unmanageable equilibrium, we wish to advise that the policy of government on free programmes be reviewed to increase the IGR(Internally Generated Revenue) of the state.

“There should be introduction of token amount to be paid by each pupil/ student to assist the government since the government had hitherto provided everything on education free of charge when the economy was stable.

“The PTA should be re-introduced to contribute token amount to schools. It was revealed that at the Federal Government College, Ipetu, parents do pay a sum of N5,000 per student to assist the school.”

The labour leaders also recommended that the governor should prioritise capital projects and complete them in phases.

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