Two of the most significant developmental challenges for any country, especially for emerging nations like Ghana, are education and food security. A substantial percentage of Ghana’s population lives below the poverty line, and a majority of families struggle to meet their members’ basic requirements, such as food and education. To address these issues, the Ghanaian government has adopted several initiatives which includes the School Feeding Programme (SFP). The SFP is a program with the goals of enhancing the nutritional quality of pupils in Ghana’s public primary schools, encouraging access to education and boosting agricultural productivity. This article captures the ups and downs, and takes a closer look at Ghana School Feeding Programme, and mainly focuses on its implementation, results, and challenges.
To begin with, Ghana’s School Feeding Programme was initiated in 2005, and it is a joint effort by the government of Ghana, the World Food Programme (WFP), and the Dutch Government. The program targets children in public primary schools in Ghana, providing them with one hot meal per day during the school term. The School Feeding Programme is a demand-driven program because schools have to apply to participate in the program. The selection criteria include the level of poverty in the community, the availability of locally produced food, and the presence of a school feeding committee.
LOGO OF GHANA’S SCHOOL FEEDING PROGRAMME
The government, the WFP, the Netherlands Government, the Ghana Education Service, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, as well as the participating schools, are just a few of the stakeholders involved in the SFP’s implementation. The WFP offers technical support, including capacity building, monitoring, and evaluation, while the government funds the program. The Dutch government supports its contribution of money for infrastructure and equipment. The program’s daily operation is the responsibility of the participating schools. To oversee the administration of the program, a school feeding committee made up of parents, teachers, and community people must be set and the committee is in charge of creating the menu, buying the ingredients, preparing the meal, and serving it.
It is worth noting that, children in Ghana’s public elementary schools have benefitted substantially from the School Feeding Programme. The initiative has helped to promote access to school, raise agricultural productivity, and improve children’s nutritional status.
Some Immediate Benefits
Increased in number of school enrolment
Children in Ghana’s public elementary schools now have better access to education mainly due to the School Feeding Programme. Many children in Ghana from low-income homes don’t go to school because they have to labour to support their families or assist with domestic duties. One hot meal per day being offered has encouraged parents to enrol their children in school. Hence, it has contributed to an increase in school enrolment, attendance, and retention rates.
Students eating during classes under the Ghana SFP
GHANA’S SCHOOL FEEDING PROGRAMME
Boost in Agriculture, food security and profit for local farmers
In addition, the School Feeding Programme has helped Ghana’s agriculture become more productive. Local food is sourced for the program, giving small-scale producers a market. The initiative has helped small-scale farmers live better lives by raising their income and ensuring their food security. Moreover, the initiative has increased the demand for local food items, promoting the production and consumption of local food items.
Better Nutritional status for students
Also, the School Feeding Programme has been successful in increasing Ghanaian primary school students’ nutritional status. Before the program’s implementation, many students in public schools were malnutrition and had inadequate amounts of protein and iron. One hot meal per day has greatly improved their nutritional condition and has given students access to enjoy a balanced diet that meets their nutritional requirements and this has improved their health outcomes. According to studies, the program has helped to lower the rate of malnutrition among children in Ghana’s public primary schools.
Despite the success chalked by the Ghana School Feeding Initiative, there are still some issues that need to be resolved. These challenges include funding constraints, inadequate infrastructure and equipment, limited access to local food items, and sustainability issues, monitoring and evaluation, the nutritional value of a meal.
Some Immediate challenges facing the lofty programme
The challenge of fund
Funding is one of the major challenges facing Ghana’s School Feeding Programme. The program needs a large number of resources to run, including money for purchasing food, funding for infrastructure and equipment, and money for monitoring and evaluation. The initiative is primarily funded by the Ghanaian government; however, financing is frequently insufficient to cater for the needs of all schools as well as pay the caterers recruited. This has resulted in some schools being left out of the program, while others receive inadequate funding to provide sufficient meals for pupils. And, in the past years there has been issues of caters requesting for long overdue wages which have not been received. In addition, there have been questions about the food’s nutritional content and some have been criticized for serving low-quality meals that lack essential nutrients even though the school feeding program strives to give students nourishing meals.
The Infrastructural Challenge
The inadequate infrastructure and equipment in participating schools is another difficulty for Ghana’s School Feeding Program. Many schools lack the requisite equipment and resources needed to carry out the program efficiently. For instance, it can be challenging to prepare and serve meals at some schools because they lack kitchens, cooking stoves, or storage facilities, hence have to resort to cooking under trees. The quality of the food given and the effectiveness of the program as a whole is being heavily challenged by the lack of basic infrastructure and equipment.
Students queuing up with plates in hand to be served their meal under a batcher.
INADEQUATE INFRASTRUCTURE AND EQUIPMENT IN SOME SCHOOLS FOR SFP
There’s limited access to local food items due to School Feeding Programme because the SFP sources food items locally, which promotes the production and consumption of local food items.
The challenge of serving varieties
It might be challenging to serve a variety of wholesome meals because local food options are frequently few. Local food items might sometimes be more expensive than imported food items, making it challenging for schools to buy them.
Another issue facing Ghana’s School Feeding Program is sustainability. The program has effectively raised agricultural productivity, encouraged access to education, and enhanced children’s nutritional status. The program’s long-term viability is however, uncertain.
The program relies heavily on donor support, which is often unpredictable. There is a need to develop a sustainable financing mechanism for the program to ensure its long-term sustainability.
Effective Monitoring Challenge
Also, good monitoring and evaluation are key components in determining how well the school food program works. Concerns have been raised concerning the calibre and reliability of monitoring in some schools, though. As a result, there have been instances of improper management and misuse of program funding. Monitoring and evaluation are vital tools for the progress of initiatives as it aids tracks the necessary steps and changes after the implementation of an initiative.
Importance of the programme and the way forward
Ghana’s School Feeding Programme is an important initiative aimed at promoting access to education and increasing agricultural productivity and improving the nutritional status of children. The program has been successful in achieving its objectives, but it faces several challenges that need to be addressed. The government of Ghana and its development partners must work together to address the funding constraints, inadequate infrastructure and equipment, limited access to local food items, nutritional, sustainability, evaluation and monitoring challenges hindering the progress of the program. With the right support and resources, Ghana’s School Feeding Programme can be a stepping stone towards achieving food security and education for all children in Ghana.