Release Feeding Grant On Time
5/9/2012 11:05:15 PM -
Last Tuesday we carried a story on the government’s release of GH¢9.65 million to cover the feeding grant and subsidies for public basic and senior high schools (SHSs).
The feeding grant component of the amount is meant for only SHSs in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions and the northern part of the Volta Region, while the subsidy is to cover the payment of utility bills for all SHSs in the country and the 70 per cent subsidy to reduce the registration fees for the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE).
It is understood that the feeding grant is given to schools in the specified areas because of their peculiar circumstances.
The peculiar circumstances were not explained, though, but those of us who take keen interest in our internal affairs know that the areas specified are affected by the harshest scourge of poverty, making it difficult for most parents there to bear the full cost of their children’s education.
For this reason, the governments feeding grant is an intervention whose significance can only be appreciated by those who have a good knowledge of those harsh circumstances and the government, like its predecessors, should be commended for sustaining that time-long arrangement for our unfortunate compatriots.
However, we wish to state unequivocally that the delay in releasing such grants has become a bottleneck in the administration of the schools.
Why should the state resort to unnecessary bureaucracy that forces heads of the beneficiary schools to buy food items on credit? In some cases, the heads have to resort to all kinds of excuses just to avoid meeting their creditors. What excuse can the government offer for releasing the grant some two weeks to the end of the term?
Is it not sad to hear that in September 2011 the beneficiary SHSs suffered food shortage because of the government’s inability to release the feeding grant to them?
Where does bureaucracy fly or run to when it comes to releasing money to politicians and public officials who are described as carrying out official duties? Aren’t the heads of our schools also carrying out official duties? Are we not the same people who bandy it around that education is key to development?
Have we considered the negative impact on the health of the students when they are starved, underfed or fed on imbalanced diet because their schools do not have money and so have to buy on credit just something that will fill their stomachs?
It is even sadder that the grant that is reported to have been released has, in fact, to go through other bureaucratic procedures to get to the schools.
According to the Head of Public Relations of the Ghana Education Service (GES), Mr Paul Krampah, the Ministry of Finance had released the money to the Controller and Accountant-General’s Department for it to credit the account of the Ministry of Education, which would in turn issue cheques to the GES for onward transfer to the schools.
We pray that the cheques do not get to the schools during the vacation, in which case the heads would have been strained and stretched beyond measure.
The Daily Graphic wishes to join the President of the Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS), Mr Samuel Ofori-Adjei, in appealing to the government to immediately release the feeding grant for the third term.
We wish to suggest that all future releases should be made before any term begins or latest immediately schools reopen in order to avoid the situation where the schools have to be run on credit.
Therefore, the Daily Graphic suggests that the government must begin the process of releasing the grants early enough to eliminate the perennial delay associated with the release of the grants and subsidies.