Ashaiman pupils fed on 80 pesewas diet … By School Feeding Programme … Parents decry poor nutrition

Parents in the Ashaiman municipality have expressed shock that the National School Feeding Programme (NSFP) feeds their children in the public schools with eighty pesewas each day. Totaling 6,659 children in all the public basic schools in the municipality, the pupils are sometimes malnourished or served with poorly nutritious meals, because of the paltry eighty pesewas each pupil is fed, on daily basis.

Before the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government would exit office, coordinators of the NSFP were paid via mobile money and they lamented that transactional charges were deducted when they withdrew the eighty pesewas for each pupil.

NSFP coordinators in Ashaiman have a backlog of two months’ arrears owed them by their employers and Mrs. Nuerki Sodja, Assistant Director at the Ashaiman Municipal Assembly (ASHMA), expressed disgust at the meals served the pupils. The feeding fee per pupil was woefully inadequate, she cried.

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Disclosing this at a community forum in Ashaiman, where a community monitoring group was later launched to ensure that government’s social intervention programmes, especially the NSFP and Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) were better managed, Mrs. Sodja said her outfit had not been happy with how sometimes the pupils were served poorly cooked meals.

She revealed that eighty pesewas feeding fee for each pupil was provided under the NSFP. Furthermore, she said, the coordinators engaged by the NSFP were not trained caterers. “Coordinators are politically engaged when their party is in government and this has been the case since the programme was introduced in 2005, in the first administration of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

“The NSFP has become political employment reserved for women’s organisers of the two main political parties, and the consequence is the poor meals served our children because of the paltry feeding fee the government pays the caterers and the inexperience they are in cooking for a large number,” she lamented.

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Mrs. Nuerki Sodja explained that the NSFP was doing well when it was under donor funding in 2005.

Nii Anang Adjor I, Ashaiman Regent, shared his testimony from one of the public schools in the municipality, where he said he could not believe the poor food served the pupils. “I nearly cried watching these innocent children eating a poorly prepared meal. Had I stayed a minute longer in the school, I would have lost my cool.”

In order to sustain the NSFP, therefore, Nii Adjor I was of the view that the programme be de-politicized and opened to only coordinators who are qualified caterers to apply.

Besides, he said this government should ensure that it increased the eighty pesewas feeding fee to a reasonable amount to enable the caterers prepare nutritious and sumptuous meals to the pupils.

Nii Anang Adjor was hopeful that the community monitoring team, which has Mamaga Peace, queen mother for the Ewe community in Ashaiman, and Chief Salisu Yaro, Ashaiman Zongo chief, as leaders, would work hard to ensure that the NSFP in Ashaiman was better.

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The forum was organised by Penplusbytes, a non-governmental organisation, which would use tech-driven social accountability for results approach that would see the use of new digital tools, enabling citizens to hold government to account within the framework of political and social accountability.

From Inusa Musah, Ashaiman

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