Five hundred and sixty nine (569) additional schools are expected to benefit from the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) by the end of the year 2008. This would bring to a total of 1,556, the number of schools that would be covered by the programme.
The beneficiary schools are also expected to scale-up to 2,889 with 1.4 million pupils by the end of 2010.
These were made known yesterday by the Minister for Local Government, Rural Development and Environment (MLGRDE), Hon. Kwadwo Adjei Darko at the Ministry's turn of the Meet-the-Press series organised by the Ministry of Information and National Orientation in Accra.
'These were made possible by the disbursement of GH ¢ 23,992,657.92 on the Ghana School Feeding Programme, with GH¢2,170,000.00 from The Netherlands' Government and the remaining coming from the Government of Ghana,' the Minister said. He said, the amount was used to pay the private caterers that prepare the food for the pupils.
Hon. Adjei Darko explained that the previous delay in payments to the caterers was due to the bureaucratic nature of government financial administration system. He gave an assurance that the current payment system, which gives the Accountant General the right to effect payments, would help solve the problem.
'This whole idea about the process is to make the release of monies efficient and to build the confidence of the recipients'. The sector Minister observed.
The Executive Chairman of GSFP, Dr. Amoako Tuffour, observed that the GSFP, despite its problems, has so far been successful in its main objective of increasing school enrolment, attendance and retention of most public and kindergarten school pupils, adding, 'It has also improved the nutritional status of children in the beneficiary schools'.
The program, the Executive Chairman observed, has also attracted more people into farming due to the demand for local produce. 'There is now a ready market for farm produce that formally experience post harvest lost,' he added.
'It would subsequently serve as a catalyst to help secure the food requirements of the country,' he noted.
Dr Amoako Tuffour appealed to the media and stakeholders to help make the programme a successful one, noting that the ultimate objective of GSFP should be collective efforts of all.
GSFP was introduced by the government last year to provide children in public primary schools and kindergartens, especially in deprived communities, with one hot nutritious meal, prepared from locally grown foodstuffs on every school-going day.