Accra, Oct. 11 GNA - The Government is to implement a School Feeding Programme (SFP) for all first cycle public schools in selected deprived districts across the country starting from the 2004/2005 academic year.
Under the programme, school children at the basic level in public schools would be provided with one well-balanced meal a day for five days during the week.
Consequently, the United Nations and its specialised agencies as well as other bilateral and multilateral agencies have given their support and commitment to the initiative.
A statement issued in Accra on Monday by Dr K. Amoako Tuffour, Chairman, and Ghana-UN Millennium Development Goals Task Force for Hunger and Poverty, said the major programme had been scheduled to take off nationwide in January 2005.
It said the first phase of the programme, that is between 2005 and 2009 was expected to cost 247.4 million dollars; 25 per cent of which would be borne by the Government of Ghana. It said 50 per cent was expected from the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) Secretariat, 20 per cent from development partners and the private sector five per cent.
Ghana is one of the 10 countries selected by NEPAD to start the new initiative.
It said the programme sought to reduce short-term hunger and malnutrition among pupils, increase school enrolment, attendance and retention as well as promote domestic food production and increased market access for farmers.
The programme would be expanded to cover 1,000,700 pupils over a five-year academic period.
It said there was going to be a test in one deprived district in every region from October to December this year before the full-scale implementation of the programme.
The statement said the long-term objective of the programme was to create the foundation for community-based development in Ghana to eliminate hunger and poverty.