Ghana: School Feeding Program; more must be done
The school feeding program introduced by the NPP administration is one of the best educational policies to be effected in Ghana. Though there has been corruption scandals involving some officials appointed to co-ordinate the whole program, it has faired well. Many school children are assured of food and this is a relief to many parents, especially the poor. And to a large extent, school children who may spend all of their monies on sweets during lunch break are now secured by the provision of nutrition meal.
There are still challenges; people are always questioning the sanitary conditions under which food is prepared for these children. Aside environmental factors; there has been a cry of foul with regards to the quality of ingredients used in preparing the food. On one account, a caterer was interdicted after maggots were found in the food of some students. There are countless issues pertaining to this program and no doubt it has been politicized by many backward thinkers.
The challenge I have is, since he public schools train the largest student populations in the country from primary level to S.H.S level, more must be done about this program. I believe the program must help many inexperienced students to learn how to eat with fork and knife as part of quality education. I often watch these students on the TV eating from unhygienic bowls and most of them do the eating with their hands. Because of their population I doubt if teachers check whether or not students eat with washed or unwashed hands. Table manners must be taught and proper eating habits must be encouraged. If the program only concentrates on feeding children without factoring in all the conditions associated with eating with the right set of equipments and positive eating habits in perspectives, then it is a shambolic initiative.
Government can partner with NGOs and other private sector actors who may volunteer to help children understand the reason eating with washed hands isn’t bad and yet not appropriate when one is in a public gathering. Some companies may supply plastic forks and knives so children may learn how to use them. Education must be holistic; it must affect one’s private life as well as social life. Information I gathered from one documentary I watched last year was that, in the rural areas students are even allowed to bring bowls from their houses and it was a terrible sight to behold; bowls were dirty and some parts corroded. Once again in partnership plastic companies, government and NGOs can help students with plastic plates or bowls, especially those in the rural areas.
I think government has done well, both those who initiated the program and those sustaining it, but we are all involved. We are the government and this is our country we got to do things rightly.
Fidel Y. Tetteh