Ghana School Feeding Program: 6 Years onBy Frederick S.

Ghana School Feeding Program: 6 Years on

By Frederick S.

Published on Thu, Aug 25 2011 by Frederick S.
The Ghana School Feeding Program (GSFP) was commissioned in 2005 to serve one hot meal everyday to school children in deprived parts of Ghana.  The program was initiated by the Ghana government and supported by the Dutch government. The intial phase of the program aimed to cover 200,000 pupils in the first year, then add 300,000 pupils each year, leading to a total ennrolment of 1,500,000 children by the end of 2010. (As of July 2011, an estimated 700,000 children are covered by the program.) Ultimately, the program aims to cover all pupils below the junior high school level. 
Six years into its implementation, the program has boosted school enrolment, as many pupils are encouraged to attend school, even if for the sole reason of getting food to eat. Retention rate  has increased, with hunger becoming less of an excuse for children to drop out of school. Parents of these children have welcomed the program, for it takes away the burden of one extra meal that they would have had to provide to their children.
Other sectors of the economy have benefited from the program. Thousands of caterers have been hired to cook and serve the meals. Local agriculture production have  received a boost, as the program provides a ready market for some of their produce. The health sector is also less burdened with medical problems that would have arisen out of malnutrition, had these children's meals not been supplemented by the program.
But all is not peachy-keen with the program. Some  external monitors of the intiative say that its  intended targets--children from poor backgrounds--are not catered for by the program.  This has led some stakeholders and donors to consider pulling out of the program. On their part, the directors of GSFB contend that some poor children are located within schools and communities that are not quite in need, hence their decision to extended the program  to such schools. 
Going forward, the GSFP has to carefully retarget schools and draw new criteria that would ensure that chosen schools satisfy the requirements of donors and stakeholders. If not, this helpful project might come to a halt, leaving beneficiaries including schoolchildren and employees of the program in limbo.   

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