Madam Otiko Afisa Djaba, the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP), has disclosed that government has released an amount of GH¢10,000,000.00 towards the settlement of outstanding debts of the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP).
However, the National Secretariat of the GSFP is working on the reconciliation of the transactions executed within the last two academic terms between the GSFP caterers, and MASLOC, suppliers of rice, maize and catering equipment to caterers on credit in the 2016/17 academic year.
“There is the need for us to conduct proper and diligent reconciliations in order to pay accurate amounts to the caterers,” Madam Afisa Djaba stated on Wednesday when she led a team to visit pupils of South LA Estate Primary School in Accra on their “my first day at school” programme.
She has therefore assured caterers under the GSFP that: “Payments due them for the second and third terms of the 2016/17 academic year will be honoured by the end of September, 2017”.
“My first day at school” was instituted some few years ago by the Ghana Education Service to enable government functionaries and top education officers interact with pupils who are attending school for the first time.
The total enrolment of the South La Estate Primary School for the 2017/18 academic year is about 720, however, over 500 had reported as at the time of the visit with the kindergarten admitting 18 pupils and Class one having 35 pupils.
Madam Afisa Djaba further urged Caterers and Metropolitan and Municipal District Assemblies to exercise restraint and cooperate with the National Secretariat of the GSFP to ensure the speedy payment.
“We assure all stakeholders of government’s commitment to sustain the programme and improve the quality delivery of meals to beneficiary pupils.
“The School Feeding Programme is going to be extended to over 5,000 schools, which will also be increased by 30 per cent. Government has agreed to increase the feeding amount from the previous 80 pesewa to 85 pesewa for quality meals to be served the beneficiaries,” she said.
According to the Gender Minister, to sustain the programme, home-grown rice would be used this academic year adding that “Rice will be supplied to caterers in the various districts through the Ministry. This is a facility aiming at improving upon the quality delivery of food served the pupils”.
Madam Afisa Djaba expressed the hope that the programme would encourage the pupils to stay in school and called on teachers to be committed and show love to the pupils.
The Gender Minister and her team including Dr Kwame Adu Nsiah, the National Coordinator of the GSFP interacted with the pupils as well as advised them to be disciplined, take their studies serious and stressed that it was important for the pupils to attend school regularly.
Madam Mary Amasah, the Headmistress of South LA Estate Primary, lauded stakeholders for the School Feeding Programme, which had increased enrolment and retention in basic schools.
She therefore appealed that the programme be extended to the Junior High department of various public schools as there were equally students in need at that level as well.