General News of Thursday, 20 September 2012
Source: RomeoAdzah Dowokpor/The Republic
The Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) is now feeding 1,567,839 pupils in some 4,500 selected primary schools and kindergartens across the country with a quantum jump from 1,367 schools and 600,000 beneficiaries as at January 2009.
Government is putting progressive measures in place in increasing the number of beneficiaries with targeted goals of feeding all infants and school children a nutritious meal a day in school; increase the enrollment, attendance and retention of pupils in school; and also boosting domestic food production thereby increasing the incomes of local farmers.
This came to light yesterday when Mr. Siiba Alfa, the Public Relations Officer of the Programme spoke to The Republic and stated that even though the concept (GSFP) is laudable, its formulation and implementation was not well thought through when it began in 2005 by the erstwhile regime of Kufour.
He stated that the disbursement of funds for the Programme was bedeviled with malfeasances as there was lack of transparency, non-adherence to procurement laws, incoherent data collection on its operations and other problems plagued its smooth operation but Mr. S.P. Adamu, the current Coordinator of GSFP has brought his leadership to bear by significantly transforming the Programme into one of admiration
“As part of our retargeting and expansion project and the subsequent withdrawal of funds by the Dutch government because of the unbalanced distribution of the Programme across basic schools on the basis of their deprived statuses or otherwise, Ashanti and Greater Accra Regions which used to have 25.44% and 18.32% coverage of beneficiary schools have now been reviewed downwards to 16% and 12.46% respectively be”, he said
This also saw a jump in corresponding percentage coverage of the programme in deprived schools in other regions like Upper West, Northern and Volta from 3.06% to 8.44%, 7.09 % to 11.44% and 4.16% to 8.42% severally.
On the issue of delays in the payment of arrears to caterers, the PRO stated that it is not deliberate attempt on the part of the GSFP to starve them of the necessary capital needed to effectively run the Programme in feeding the over 1.5million school-children across the country.
“Out of the accumulated arrears of sixty-one(61) working days owed them(caterers), we have so far paid 16days out of it and another 25days is being processed for payment next week but the rest will be paid immediately after the second tranche goes through. We are making frantic efforts to stop this challenge from recurring to ensure that the Programme goes on smoothly”, he stressed.