Government has been urged to extend the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) to cover Junior High School students in the deprived schools across Ghana to ensure their retention in school.
At a two day’s Nutrition Initiative Trainer of Trainers’ Workshop organized by the National Secretariat of the Ghana School Feeding Programme in Accra, some participants were of the view that some primary school children promoted to the JHS lack the confidence to stay in school due to their parents’ inability to provide money for their feeding at school every day.
An Officer from the Special Education Division of Ghana Education Service (GES), Mr. Robert Gariba observed that the Government’s decision to provide education for all Ghanaian children at all levels or not allowing poverty to be a barrier to the education of Ghanaian children could be well achieved if underprivileged JHS students are added to the GSFP.
The GSFP currently provides one hot nutritious meal to close to three million (2.8 million) children in deprived schools in Ghana and those at the Senior High Schools are also provided with feeding grants. But the JHS students are completely neglected in both the GSFP and the Feeding Grants.
“The challenge here is that parents of those children going to JHS used not to give them pocket money because they are very poor and were being supported by GSFP. So now if you tell the same deprived parents to provide pocket money for the feeding of their children going to JHS, the end result is that that child will stop going to school because the parent can’t afford”, Mr Gariba said.
He said that in order for the programme to be more inclusive, the deprived JHS students ought to be included to fill the gap so that the JHS one, two and three can also benefit from the GSFP.
The GSFP is a continuing investment that nourishes children and decreases food insecurity while contributing to the achievement of the first four SDGs.
The main objective of the programme is to motivate parents to enroll their wards in basic schools, improve attendance, make pupils stay in schools and to improve the nutritional intake of children in rural areas.
The programme further creates the opportunity to bring both girls and boys into school by ensuring that they are free from hunger to enable them concentrate and focus on learning.
Currently, the GSFP programme covers 62% of the deprived schools in Ghana representing 9,495 deprived schools. It has employed 9,700 caterers and 19,400 cooks. Several local farmers and service providers are benefiting from the GSFP.
In a quick response to the concerns raised by Mr. Robert Gariba and other participants, the Deputy National Coordinator of the GSFP, Mrs. Gertrude Quashigah in an interview with WatchGhana.Com lauded the participants for their concern. She however noted that plans were far advanced for the Government to include the JHS students in the programme.
Mrs. Quashigah said that the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo had already made a pronouncement to the effect that his Government would soon migrate the JHS onto the GSFP to ensure that those children are free from hunger and are able to concentrate in school.