The company, Student Card Limited (SCL) is reputed for providing technology-based solutions for some financial administration problems that plague schools, the Jamaican Gleaner reports.
The contract sum is not disclosed but the technology transfer is expected to reduce the expenditure that the Ghana government currently makes on feeding the 500,000 school children covered in the programme. Ghana spends about $250 million every year on the programme, but SCL’s technology will be expected to cut the cost to $120 million yearly.
SCL is also receiving a financial boost from US billionaire Geroge Soros for the programme and that will give Soros a 20% stake in the business, according to the report.
The new system, according to SCL CEO, Khary Robinson will replace the current paper-based voucher system.
The school feeding programme was started in 2005 as part of the country’s Millenium Development Goals (MDG). The aim was to provide one hot meal a day to school children as a way of encouraging enrolment in public schools. It was also meant to promote increase in domestic food production, reduce hunger and ensure school attendance and retention among the target group of school children in most deprived communities in Ghana.
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 an 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.
But the programme appears to be plagued by so many problems among them nepotism, mismanagement and corruption. It is hoped that the introduction of technology by SCL will reduce corruption and save the country the expected $130 million.
According to the report, the testing of the system will begin in Ghanaian schools in March 2010, and full card distribution is expected to begin in September 2010.
SCL is reportedly negotiating partnerships for its operations in Ghana, key among them being securing a telecommunications partner, top-up partners, and a banking partner. The directors say the main investment of US$2.5 million has already been made in the development of the software.
“What remains to be put in place for Ghana are the cards and terminals,” Khary Robinson was quoted as saying.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi