Ministry targets three million for school feeding
The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection is working towards increasing the beneficiaries of the Ghana School Feeding Programme to three million by the end of the 2016 to improve the nutritional status of pupils and their retention in school.
Nana Oye Lithur, the Sector Minister, announced this, in Accra, at a stakeholders’ meeting to discuss the quality of the food and the general improvement of the programme.
She said by the 2014/2015 Academic Year, the total number of pupils on the programme had increased to more than 1.72 million beneficiaries, from the 2006/2007 population of 413,498, representing 320.6 per cent.
The beneficiaries are from 5,000 public primary schools, representing 39.43 per cent of the total national population of public primary schools.
Nana Oye Lithur said the Government launched the School Feeding Programme, in 2005, in response to the New Partnership for Africa’s Development recommendation for the adoption of a home-grown school feeding concept.
She explained that the goal of the concept was to contribute to poverty reduction and increase food security in line with the Millennium Development Goals on Hunger, Poverty and Malnutrition.
Nana Oye Lithur said the first phase of the implementation took place from 2006 to 2010.
However, the programme, she said was now being implemented as a social protection strategy across the 216 districts to improve school enrolment, attendance and retention.
She said Cabinet approved the School Feeding Policy and Social Protection Policy in 2015 to strengthen the legal and policy framework of the programme, while a Bill for the Ghana School Feeding Agency was being drafted by the Attorney General.
She said a new Caterer Contracting and Procurement Guidelines had been developed to ensure transparency and compliance with national procurement guidelines, and explained that the menu served to the pupils would be based on the three geographical regions of the forest, savannah and coastal areas.
The Minister said the Government had established the Ghana Household Registry to ensure inclusion and transparency in targeting beneficiaries of the Social Protection Programme.
Nana Oye Lithur said the Ministry had introduced an electronic payment system to ensure value for money , curb delays associated with previous modes of payment and inject transparency and accountability in the programme’s financial system.
She announced that the Government had secured funds to pay the 70 days of the first-term of 2015/2016 academic year and that the arrears would be released by the close of April, 2016.
“The Ministry will continue to collaborate with key stakeholders, especially the Ghana Education Service, to provide credible school enrolment data through the Education Management Information Service,” she said.
She said the School Feeding Programme was collaborating with the Ghana Education Service and National Health Insurance Authority to register every school going child on the School Feeding Programme free of charge and provide them with biometric ID cards.