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Opinions of Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Columnist: Amon, Nii

Scrap the School Feeding Programme

The introduction of the School Feeding Programme by the previous administration has
come with so many challenges as I expected. I knew things were going to go wrong
right from the beginning. Many were those who jubilated at the inception of the
programme and even used it as a political campaign tool by the New Patriotic Party
in the 2008 elections.

The responsibility of every nation is to create the enabling environment for its
citizenry to earn a decent living to take care of their children and not the state
directly involving itself in feeding the children under a programme called School
Feeding Programme

When you give birth to a child, it is your sole responsibility as a parent to
provide shelter, food and education for that child to achieve his or her dream and
not the burden of the state.

Many have also taken advantage of the Programme to procreate indiscriminately to the
detriment of the limited resources available under the Programme. When you go to the
rural areas it is free for all. Teenage pregnancy is on the ascendancy because they
believed the School Feeding Programme will take care of the child they procreate

I am calling on this administration to scrap the School Feeding Programme and
replace it with a programme that will embark on a massive infrastructural
development both in the rural and urban schools. At least we have been reading in
the papers and also seeing it on our television sets school children sitting on
stones under trees studying. What we need as a nation in this trying moment is not
the School Feeding Programme but a conscious exercise to get rid of all schools
under trees within a certain period of time and also equip the already built
classrooms with modern facilities that can aid effective learning

The introduction of the Programme is characterised by so many problems. We have not
gotten there yet to introduce such a programme. Recently, for the first time in our
history we heard school children going on demonstration to force the authorities to
bring back the original caterer. Isn’t it laughable? These children were sending
signal to the authorities that all is not well.

We also heard about caterers fighting each other for political grounds to enable
them cook for the children. It was also reported that some of the children were
having divided attention whiles in the classroom. This is due to the fact that most
of the children did not eat from their various homes before getting to the school.
Such a thing should be expected. A soldier does not walk on an empty stomach to war.
The children must be fed by their parents before reaching the school. We are risking
the lives of these children and the earlier we stop the programme the better. Stop
the Programme and the parents will take it upon themselves to make sure the children
eat before getting to the school.

Corruption is also one of the numerous problems facing the Programme. The previous
manager was sacked from office for alleged wanton corruption on his part. We also
heard about maggot infested tomatoes being used by some of the caterers to cook for
the children thereby putting their lives in jeopardy.

Even the developed countries with all the resources at their disposal do not
encourage free feeding of school children with the sole aim of increasing the
numbers in the classroom. The main purpose of the School Feeding Programme was to
encourage or increase the number of children in the classroom. The question we need
to ask ourselves is, do we have the infrastructural facilities to accommodate the
numbers? If not, then our focus should be on the facilities and not the feeding

Our under development as a country is partly due to misplaced priorities, adoption
and implementation of wrong policies by our political leaders. Most of these leaders
who governed the country after independence did not have clear cut plan or vision to
see this country developed. When I take a look at our country Ghana in terms of
development and other countries, it looks as if Ghana is cursed for which we need
God intervention. I believe it is not too late we can start from somewhere.

I will plead with the present administration to take a bold step to terminate the
School Feeding Programme even if it will generate political uproar

Education is the backbone of every economy; therefore our political leaders must
make frantic efforts to give it the needed attention especially at the basic level.

Nii Amon