The GSFP is part of the country’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) geared to promote increase in domestic food production, reduce hunger, improve school enrolment and ensure school attendance and retention among the target group of school children in most deprived communities in Ghana.
The first operational phase of the GSFP took off with 138 schools in each of Ghana’s 138 districts. It started by providing one hot meal a day for about 38,000 school children.
The first phase of the programme expected to be implemented over a five-year period from 2006 to 2010 was expected to cover over 200,000 pupils in the first year and additional 300,000 children each year. The number of children is cumulatively expected to reach 1.5 million by 2010. Hopefully, the programme was expected to cover all pre and primary school children in the country.
A former deputy Minister for Local Government, Kofi Poku-Adusei had said in the Netherlands in 2006 that the programme was estimated to cost about 30 cents a day to feed a child which is worked out to cost about 60 Euros a year of 195 school days.
He indicated then that the total budget for the programme for the five-year period is estimated at US$328 million (270 million Euros) comprising of a total Capital Expenditure of US$15 million and Operating Expenditure of US$287 million and other expenditure of US$26 million.
But the findings of an NGO on the GSFP reveal several challenges that could possibly truncate the progress of the programme. According to a GNA report the Social Enterprise Development Foundation (SEND), Ghana has found that about 43% of beneficiary schools do not have access to safe drinking water while 37 per cent of the water tanks supplied to 83 per cent of schools under the feeding programme were not in use.
The study also found that 61% of beneficiary schools did not have good kitchen structures and 78% did not have adequate stocks of kitchen ware, especially plates and cups, 26% did not have toilet facilities, while 87% lacked hand washing facilities.
About 70 per cent of the schools did not have enough class rooms to shelter all classes and about 61 per cent had inadequate furniture.
School enrolment and attendance have been reported to have increased and stabilized as a result of the programme. But at it stands now, if it is allowed to go the way of all other programmes in the country’s education sector which is bedeviled by nepotism, ineptitude, corruption, inefficiency and irresponsible conduct, the future of many children could be jeopardized.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi