LET’S SALVAGE THE SCHOOL FEEDING PROGRAMME

SCHOOL feeding programmes have been used in many parts of the world for a number of years, with varying degrees of success.

The programme has been implemented in many countries, in both the developed and developing world.

In many of the cases, the programme is backed by other health and nutritional initiatives to ensure that they impact positively on the growth and well-being of the children.

Following research results which proved that under-nourished children do benefit immensely when provided with meals in school, the programme was initiated to boost the nutritional needs of basic school children.

In Ghana, for instance, the programme, started in 2005 by the government, in collaboration with the Government of the Netherlands, was able to chalk a lot of successes, including an increase in enrollment in the basic schools.

However, it is now reported to be on the verge of collapse, as the government owes some of the caterers over GH¢101 million.

The amount, according to Mr. Edwin Nii Lante Vanderpuije, a Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, represents arrears accumulated for 76 days, with the 2013/2014 academic year alone covering 36 days.

The government is currently indebted to more than 5,000 caterers nationwide, he disclosed.

The Times finds it worrying that after the challenges experienced in the latter days of the Kufuor administration which culminated in a brief suspension of the funding by the Dutch government, we have again allowed the system to run aground.

The government has been compelled to sacrifice the programme for other policies because of lack of funds, and this has resulted in a huge debt owed to the caterers.

The Times feels that since the pro-gramme is serving a very useful purpose, it should not be allowed to die.

We, therefore, urge the government to ensure a constant flow of funds from the Ministry of Finance to the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) Secretariat, for onward settlement of the arrears of the caterers to keep the programme operational.

It is our belief that the attainment of the Millennium Development Goal on Education hinges on this prog-ramme.

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