A SEND-Ghana report has revealed financial leakages in the School Feeding Programme introduced to provide one daily meal to children in primary school.
The 17-page annual report established that delay in reimbursement of funds to caterers interrupted regular feeding and strict adherence to menu.
“This is seen to be something that has the tendency to impact school attendance negatively,” SEND-Ghana said in the report made available to the Ghana News Agency in Wa, the Upper West Regional capital.
“Though, the policy stipulates daily feeding, averagely the schools were fed only three times in a week,” it added.
The report suggested ways to help sustain and also prevent the financial leakages in the programme.
It indicated that inconsistencies in school enrolment data, provided by directorates, schools and caterers, made it difficult to determine the actual number of pupils that were fed and whether government paid the caterers for their services.
“This situation predisposes the programme to financial leakages,” the report said.
Although adopting the caterers’ model for service provision is a laudable, it said appropriate storage facilities and the quality of food prepared could not be guaranteed having recognised the limited supervision and monitoring by programme officials.
Against this backdrop the report recommended that effective monitoring of the programme was key to ensuring food that is nutritious and safe for consumption was served to the children.
It suggested that authorities made enough resources available for programme monitoring.
“The Ghana Education Service must also step up its monitoring activities and ensure that enrolment data captured by schools and district directorates are consistent with each other as a measure to block possible leakages and engender effective and efficient planning and budgeting,” it said.
Moreover, district desk officers should also be made to liaise with officials during monitoring, the report said.
The report called on the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to collaborate with the Ghana Education Service to ensure that head teachers acted as first-line managers or supervisors of the programme to complement the work of zonal coordinators.
Metropolitan, municipal, and district assemblies must also make provision in their annual plans and budgets to support monitoring by the school feeding desk officer to complement efforts of zonal coordinators, it added.
“The situation, if not addressed, will impact negatively on attendance and contribute to slowing Ghana’s quest towards the attainments of universal basic education for all children,” it said.
The School Feeding Programme is run by the Secretariat in partnership with international agencies like the World Bank, World Food Programme, Partnership for Child Development, UNICEF and the Canadian International Development Agency.