Accra, May 19, GNA - The Government was on Thursday asked to find a lasting solution to the annual crisis of perennial delay in the payment of feeding grants to schools in the three Northern regions to avoid disruption of the school calendar and curricula.
BONABOTO, a non-partisan civil association, based in the Upper East Region at a press conference in Accra said the feeding crisis in the regions had taken a particularly ugly turn in recent years and deteriorating every passing year.
Recounting the effects of the delay of the feeding grants which has led to the closure and postponement of reopening of schools, Mr Thomas Akabza, National Chairman of BONABOTA, said the academic performance of students could take a big dip since their learning schedules were disrupted.
He said the situation would also affect the final year students who were supposed to write their examinations in a few months because "examination schedules are not going to be changed to accommodate these unfortunate ones." "It will also reduce their interest in school work and sparking potential increases in the drop-out rate". Mr Akabza said another likely effect was that poor parents might pull their wards out of school to help in their immediate survival battles. The three Northern regions, according to Mr Akabza have the lowest concentration of schools in the country accounting for less than four per cent of student population at the university level. Only two schools in those regions are in Ghana's top 45 secondary schools that account for 96.3 per cent of total admissions to Universities.
The regions also accounts for mere 3.7 per cent of admissions to universities according to recent statistics.
Mr Akabza said the situation has been compounded by the systematic reverse of the cost-sharing and cost recovery policies of the last two decades and the lackadaisical attitude of some public officials, coupled with the deliberate colonial policy that created a 60-year education gap between the northern and southern parts of the country.
"We appeal to the Minister of Education to, as a matter of urgency, facilitate the release of the feeding grants of students in second cycle institutions in the three northern regions without further delay and ensure the recall of all students who were at home for the past two weeks", Mr Akabza said.
BONABOTO further encouraged the Northern Caucus in Parliament to close their ranks and speak strongly on the issue to ensure a speedy and lasting resolution of the problem.
It also appealed to all districts assemblies in the regions to treat the issue as an emergency and join hands with Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS) and well-meaning individuals to solve the problem.
At the conference were Members of the Northern Caucus in Parliament who also urged the governments to address the situation once and for all.