zion

Search

Overcoming the implementation challenges of the Ghana School Feeding Programme-SEND-Ghana’s view

By G.D. Zaney, Esq.

 

The Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) is a pilot social protection project, the implementation of which began in 2005, to provide food to children at school and forms part of measures to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, and achieve universal primary education.


The policy provides broad guidelines, strategies and institutional framework for the operationalization of government policy towards reducing poverty through improved household income and effective local economic development.


The goal of the policy is, therefore, to deliver a well-organized, decentralized intervention that provides disadvantaged school children with nationally-adequate and locally-produced food which will help reduce poverty through improved household incomes and effective local economic development.


The programme envisioned rapid national socio-economic development through a co-ordinated, integrated and accountable national school feeding programme to deliver improved nutrition for disadvantaged school children.


Other policy objectives under the project include the provision of sustainable social development support to children in deprived Ghanaian communities, strengthened collaboration and co-ordination between national and sub-national; and fostering local economic development in food production.


The Programme, currently, covers about 5,285 public basic schools in 216 districts with a total enrolment of over 1,728,681 pupils across the country and  is  run by a Secretariat in partnership with international agencies including the World Bank, World Food Programme (WFP), Partnership for Child Development (PCD) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNICEF), as well as national organizations including Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Dutch Embassy in Accra, Ghana.


So far, GSFP has contributed immensely to the improvement in enrolment and retention of pupils in schools, according to a 2017 report on a study conducted by SEND-Ghana, a non-governmental organization which works to promote good governance and the equality of women and men in Ghana and also a Ghana where people's rights and well-being are guaranteed, that assessed programme implementation.


The SEND-Ghana Report indicates, however, that notwithstanding its success story, programme implementation encountered a number of challenges, some of which are the inadequate and late release of funds, ineffective structures, weak institutional collaboration, weak monitoring and widespread corruption.


The outcome of the Study shows that although the policy on GSFP prescribes a daily feeding, the schools, on average, feed the school children only three times a week.
The study also reveals that there is delayed reimbursement of funds to caterers which affected the frequency of feeding and the strict adherence to district menu which, in turn, has negatively impacted on school attendance.


The study reveals, further, that inconsistencies have been identified in school enrolment data as provided by the GSFP directorate, schools and caterers, a development which frustrated the accurate determination of the actual number of pupils that were fed and whether or not the caterers were Paid by government for the service rendered—a situation which opens up the programme to financial leakages.


Furthermore, according to the study, lack of adequate storage facilities, coupled with limited supervision and monitoring by GSFP compromise the quality of food.


The study, therefore, recommends that to ensure the provision of meals that are nutritious and safe for consumption, effective monitoring by GFSP in collaboration with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), supported by adequate resources, is a prerequisite.


The involvement of the Ghana Education Service (GES) has also been highly recommended in ensuring consistency in enrolment data as an effective tool for blocking leakages and facilitating proper planning and budgeting. In other words, in view of the limited resources at the disposal of GSFP, prudent financial allocation can only be possible based on accurate data—and this calls for a joint audit and review of existing data-recording system and the development of a robust and improved alternative data-capturing  mechanism.


In addition, training for caterers in proper bookkeeping has also been recommended and the responsibility to provide such training assigned to GFSP and the District Assemblies.


The role of other stakeholders—Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, and the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies— has also been identified as critical to programme monitoring, particularly in relation to Head teachers, Zonal Co-ordinators and District Desk officers.


The report notes that feeding grant is inadequate in spite of its upward revision to 80 pesewas per pupil per day in 2015, and suggests that the grant be pegged at one cedi.


The report recommends further that for the effective and efficient implementation of the school feeding programme and other social protection interventions, government should establish a guaranteed source of funding which will require legal backing.  

 

The writer is an officer of the Information Services Department.








Hits: 5783