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General News of Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Source: Class FM

Gender minister moves to uproot school feeding rot


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The Minister of Gender, Child and Social Protection, Cynthia Mamle Morrision, has taken some measures aimed at sanitising the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP).

One of such measures is a directive to the Chief Executive Officer of the Youth Employment Agency (YEA) to carry out a comprehensive nationwide verification and validation exercise of all service providers.

“I will be most grateful if you could kindly use your good office to carry out a nationwide comprehensive assessment (verification, validation, etc.) of the Ghana School Feeding Programme”, a letter signed by Ms Morrison and addressed to the CEO of the Youth Employment Agency implored.

The data to be produced out of this exercise, the Gender Minister believes, will play a major role in cleaning the system and also updating the Ministry’s records for credible payment.

The minister mentioned the numerous challenges facing the school feeding programme as the main reason necessitating the validation exercise.

Her action follows a revelation by the 2018 Auditor-General’s report that there were financial irregularities in the GSFP that led to huge financial losses to the state.

Eighty-one metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs), as well as the managers of the programme, have been blamed for the mismanagement.

Bloated enrolment figures, duplication of schools and payment of grants to nonexistent caterers in the 2017-2018 academic year, as well as under-declaration of revenue from the sale of application forms, according to the report, accounted for the huge losses running into millions of cedis.

The report accused the 81 MMDAs of declaring only GH¢194,383 of GH¢1.09 million realised from the sale of 21,880 application forms to caterers who applied for contracts.

That means an amount of GH¢899,617 from the sale of the forms was unaccounted for and has been outstanding since 2017.

The report also singles out the Sekyere East District for particularly padding the enrolment figures and manipulating the data.

Responding to the request, the CEO of YEA, Mr Justin Kodua, deployed about 700 monitoring and evaluation (M&E) officers across the country for the exercise, which commenced on 26 August 2019.

The cleanup exercise would be done through the use of a credible computer software application powered by Millennium Promise Alliance, an international NGO working with the Ministry of Gender and the YEA.

The software, according to experts in the field, has proven to be effective in cleaning up corrupt systems in some other jurisdictions in Africa.

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