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2008-02-21 20:06:02
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The Social Enterprise Development Foundation of West Africa (SEND Foundation), an non-governmental organisation (NGO), in the Northern Region, has stated emphatically that government would not achieve the desired objective of the School Feeding Programme (SFP), until the numerous problems thwarting its efficient implementation were addressed, in beneficiary schools across the country.

According to the SEND Foundation NGO, though the government was making strides with the programme, increased enrolments without adequate learning and teaching materials, as well as lack of educational infrastructure, posed more threats to the programme.

The NGO therefore called for extreme increase in funding being allocated to schools for the implementation of the SFP.

This was declared at an advocacy meeting in Tamale, with stakeholders, on issues affecting the SFP in schools in the region. Presenting a report on surveys conducted on the beneficiary schools by the SEND Foundation, a Focal Officer of the School for Life (SFL), in Tolon-Kumbungu District, who is also a research partner of SEND Foundation, Mr. Issahaku Ibrahim, said in some districts funds disbursed for the feeding programme were still based on enrolment figures provided at the beginning of the programme.

He cited the Nadundu Primary School, in the Yendi District, where funds were provided for two hundred pupils, while the enrolment at that period was over three hundred.

The survey also disclosed that funding for the programme was irregular, adding that it was affecting the frequency of feeding in schools, in some districts such as the Tamale Metropolis, Tolon-Kumbungu, Saboba-Chereponi, Bole, Gushiegu and Karaga.

Mr. Issahaku maintained that funds transferred for feeding were sometimes delayed.

He noted that funds for the third term were disbursed in October 2007, when in actual fact the academic year started in September.

He further explained that many communities were not well-educated about the SFP. This phenomenon, he indicated, was across all districts where the SFP was being implemented in the Northern Region.

Another teething problem, he highlighted on, was the distribution of monies from the national headquarters of the programme. In some cases they were transferred into the District Assembly’s Common Fund, instead of the SFP account.

Kitchen staff, who had been employed by the schools to cook for the children, had not been paid for between 5 and 8 months.

The meeting, which brought together other stakeholders, including the Ghana Education Service, Ministry of Health, and staff of the Regional Coordinating Council, appealed to the Ghana School Feeding Programme Secretariat to endeavour to strengthen the collaboration between it and other stakeholders of the programme.

The participants also observed that community involvement was important to ensuring the sustainability of the programme, and therefore, called on the SFP secretariat to involve the communities, as well and explain the importance of the programme to parents.

They recommended that, the national secretariat should take steps to ensure that funds were transferred into SFP accounts, with prior notice to District Assemblies.

The Deputy Northern Regional Coordinator of SFP, Mr. Salifu Sulemana, in his contribution, admitted that there were financial constraints at the national level, which made it impossible for government to respond to demands made by the various schools benefiting from the programme.

He attributed the lapses to lack of vehicles for monitoring

He also accepted the fact that cooks employed, to cook for the children, had not received their allowances for the past 8 months.

Mr. Sulemana, however, stated that the problems that have been identified would be forwarded to government for measures to be taken to solve them.

source: Chronicle

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