General News of Friday, 15 March 2013
Source: Joy Online
Officials of the School Feeding Programme have refuted claims that expired rice was supplied to schools within the Birim Central district in the Eastern region to be cooked for school children.
It follows reports that about 604 bags of rice suspected to be expired had been supplied to the schools.
One of caterers in the schools Joy News spoke to claims the rice is unwholesome.
According to her, the rice was infested with weevils and expressed fears it could have harmful effects on the pupils if it is cooked for them.
But the National Coordinator for the School Feeding Programme, Siedu Adamu insists the rice supplied is of the highest quality.
“What do they mean by expired rice? I want to understand that,” he asked.
“I haven’t had any complaint from any caterer. What I know is that the rice is supplied to the District and it must be received by the District in good condition.
“So when you receive it in good condition and sign for it then it means it is the grade A rice and signed for it."
He said the District did not have to receive the rice if it was the case that the rice was not in good condition.
He said the District Assembly should take responsibility if the rice was not in good condition.
The school feeding programme was rolled out in 2005 on a pilot basis to provide school meals for pupils in government schools and enrolment in schools increased by 21 per cent in 2005/2006 and 2007/2007 academic years as a result, according to an NGO report by the Social Enterprise Development Foundation of West Africa (SEND Foundation).
However, an audit commissioned by the Dutch government and undertaken earlier this year by the international accountancy firm PriceWaterHouseCoopers, found that after two years of implementation there was “widespread corruption” at the programme secretariat.
Among other things the report cited the award of contracts to non-existent companies, the disappearance of funds intended for programme management, and the deliberate purchase of cheap, unwholesome ingredients.