Government has released GhC21m to caterers under the School feeding Programme. The amount paid is a part of the long outstanding school feeding arrears.
The money, which was released last week, will take care of feeding grants for the first seven days of the first term of the 2016/2017 academic year.
Public Relations Officer for Programme, Siba Alfa, who spoke to Citi News on the issue, indicated that efforts are being made to make another disbursement next week, to cover an additional sixteen days of the remaining 100 days’ arrears.
He also said that the Minister of Finance has been requested to release additional funds to pay off the entire school feeding arrears, indicating that the programme has so far advanced more than 100 days of feeding grants to caterers so far in 2017, which amounts to GHc 140 million.
School Feeding Arrears: How It All Started and Progress So Far
The Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) has been ongoing since 2005, under the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme Pillar III. The programme was initiated in response to the first and second Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, and achieving universal primary education.
The basic idea of the programme has been to provide pupils in public basic schools with one hot nutritious meal, prepared from locally grown foodstuffs, on every school-going day.
Gross indebtedness however, crept into the much promoted and appreciated programme towards the end of the Mahama-led NDC administration, with feeding grants for third term of the 2015/2016 going forwards left unpaid.
Concerned authorities such as The Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS) time and again protested the non-payment of the school feeding grants, but to no avail. CHASS had revealed that the issue has since resulted to huge debts, with many schools resorting to feeding their students on credit; a move that has led to creditors (the caterers) harassing the affected heads of institutions.
However, the Nana Addo-led NPP government on assuming office, decided to heed the cries of the pupils, caterers and other concerned bodies. The government in May, released a total of GH¢ 106, 697, 628. 80 to the Registrar of Scholarships to settle the feeding grants for third and first terms of the 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 sessions respectively.
The payment was made after schools in the three northern regions of the country refused to resume schooling for second term after the Easter Break. The schools’ authorities had vowed to remain at home until government pays off the piled up feeding grant arrears.
Scores of caterers under the school feeding programme had also besieged the premises of the Ministry for Gender, Children and Social Protection, lamenting the untold suffering and financial setbacks their business has been going through due to the owed grants.
But government’s quick intervention with a significant part of the arrears brought relief to the caterers and as well saw the pupils back to school.