The Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) is one of the most important social interventions by the Government of Ghana under the leadership of President John Agyekum Kufour to help boost enrollment in public basic schools. The program was yielding results until recently when it was hit by lack of funds.
As at last Friday, checks and calculations done by Scandal indicated that caterers on the program across the country had not been paid for services provided for over two terms amounting to about Gh¢120millon.
The caterers have therefore threatened not to cook for the pupils when basic schools re-opens tomorrow until Government pays them for the services rendered for the 129 days.
Currently, each pupil is allocated Gh.50p daily per meal per day.
The National Coordinator of the GSFP, Seidu P. Adamu is unwilling to go down in history as the person under whose watch the program collapsed and so has taken some steps to keep the program afloat.
The rescue plan initiated by the Coordinator is to secure soft loansfrom Microfinance and Small Scale Center (MASLOC) for the caterers so that they can start cooking for the school pupils tomorrow.
However, the caterers are kicking against this move since they do not know when government would pay them for their previous services.
Another thorny issue which is yet to be settled is who will pay the interest on the soft loan from MASLOC?
Attempts to contact the MASLOC office for modalities for accessing the soft loans proved futile as the officials were not willing to talk to the Scandal.
On August 19, 2014, the National Coordinator wrote a letter to all Regional Coordinators drawing their attention to efforts being made by his outfit to secure soft loans from MASLOC and that interested caterers were to submit their names to one Mrs Kuma-Mintah latest by 26th August 2014.
“My son, all that we want is for the government to pay us for the 129 days we provided food for the pupils. In fact if they pay us all our money, we would not need this so called soft loan which we will have to pay some interest on”, one of the frustrated caterers told the Scandal last Friday.
On August 19, 2014, the National Coordinator wrote a letter to all Regional Coordinators drawing their attention to efforts being made by his outfit to secure soft loans from Masloc and that interested caterers were to submit their names to one Mrs Kuma-Mintah latest by 26th August 2014.
The programme provides one nutritious meal each school day for all infant and primary school children (4-12 years) and has the following short-term goals: Reduce hunger and malnutrition, increase school enrollment and attendance, and stimulate local food production.
In 2005, school enrollment, attendance and retention at public basic and primary schools in Ghana were significantly lower than today. Starting from a total of ten schools nationwide when the pilot was initiated by President Kufuor, SFP now serves over 1.7 million school children in 4,952 schools.
Even though the government allocated and approved about GH¢200 million, for the program this year, the amount is yet to be released.
The government of Ghana is now the sole financier of the programme after The Netherlands government withdrew its support in 2010.However, the programme receives technical assistance from the Partnership for Child Development, the World Food Programme and SNV, a Dutch NGO.
The criteria for selecting beneficiary schools include the poverty levels of areas, inability of children to go to school because they don’t have food, lack of concentration due to the lack of food and long distances pupils travel to attend school.
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