The National coordinator of the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP), Gertrude Quashigah, has lauded the government’s pronouncement to increase the number of beneficiary pupils in 2022, following the significant impact the programme is making in the development of education in Ghana.
The Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta at the reading of the 2022 Budget Statement in Parliament last Wednesday, announced that the beneficiary pupils under the Ghana School Feeding Programme would be increased from the current 3.4 million to over four million beneficiaries in the next academic year.
The number of beneficiary pupils of the programme was increased from 1,671,777 million in 2016/2017 to 3,448,065 in 2021 by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo which has resulted in high enrolment figures, high attendance and retention in the beneficiary schools.
Presently, over 32,496 caterers and cooks are employed by the government under the school feeding programme in over 10,832 public basic schools to provide the children with one hot nutritious meal on every school going day in all 260 districts nationwide.
Speaking to a cross-section of the media after the budget hearing, the GSFP National coordinator, Quashigah fully welcomed the decision to add more schools to the programme.
“The planned expansion by the government means a lot to us – as handlers of school feeding in Ghana… because it is always our expectation that the feeding programme is extended to all schools in Ghana in order to consolidate our achievements and also maintain our accolade given to us by AUDA-NEPAD and other reputable organisations as the trailblazer in the whole of Africa,” she said.
According to her, the Akufo-Addo government had always proven to be a listening one, which she said would do all it can in ensuring the education, empowerment and the wellbeing of the citizenry.
The expansion in the school feeding programme, she noted, would also increase the number of caterers and cooks as well as local farmers and local food suppliers who work directly or indirectly with the social intervention programme.
Quashigah who has brought some innovations into the Ghana School Feeding Programme in recent months including the digitalisation of the programme’s monitoring tools and the unannounced visitations to beneficiary schools to assess performance of caterers across Ghana, however, appealed passionately to the government to also consider increasing the feeding grant per child per day, in order to cushion the caterers.
She also called on the government to expedite action on the passage of the Ghana School Feeding Bill into law to make it more legal, efficient and sustainable for posterity.