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What prevents MoE from allowing schools to purchase food items? CHASS quizzes

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The Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS), is worried about the Ministry of Education’s new strategy of releasing funds to Buffer Stock Company to procure food supplies to schools for a two-week period.

CHASS in a recent statement said the the situation present an unhealthy situation to the schools.

“Another point which the Ministry needs to pay attention to is the fact that, National officers of CHASS have received information from a lot of the regions that, the traditional suppliers of Buffer Stock are refusing to supply due to non-payment of already supplied items. What makes the case murkier is the fact that, the Ministry is now resorting to a new system of buying two weeks rations of food for schools code named, “emergency supplies.” Under this system, cash is released to Regional Buffer Stock Managers and in some cases, the Regional co-ordinators of the Free Senior High School (FSHS) to go into the market and buy these food items, leave these item at a point and ask schools to travel (some over very long distances) to pick these meager supplies. In fact, these two weeks supplies have never been adequate for the two weeks it is always meant for. Additionally, it comes at a very big extra cost to schools apart from the fact that some schools do not even have the means to go and pick these items. It must be stated that, going to suppliers to collect food is an alien development in the line of procurement practices in schools. CHASS initially thought that the “emergency supply system” was a stop gap measure at a given point in time, but it appears it is now the norm. Another question that needs to be asked is, what prevents the Ministry from making direct transfer of funds to schools to purchase the food items in times of the emergencies, to avert the additional challenges associated with these emergency supplies?. The delicate nature of this arrangement stems from the fact that, the traditional suppliers are now abandoned in the event of these “cash transactions” and the monies are instead given to new suppliers to do the supplies. This explains why the traditional suppliers are now refusing to supply when it comes to the bulk supplies,” parts of the statement said.

CHASS used the opporunity to remind the Ministry of Education to deal with the issue of under supplies to schools.

“Honorable Minister, the issue of under supply is still a lingering reality. This is an age long issue as captured in all our food related communications to both GES and the Ministry. It is even worse now, especially in the phase of the daily upsurges in the prices of food items. You have always assured schools of the release of enough funds to cater for enough perishable items and even cater for the “inflationary gaps”, but the right thing is not being done in the supply of the food items by those responsible. The schools for sure, are not getting the right quantities of food. This certainly, is an open secret. You may need to do further checks on this. For some reasons, some of these cases remain officially unreported, even though individual Heads have always complained to the Regional Managers of Buffer Stock and Regional FSHS Co-ordinators, but evidence abound.

Sir, in the light of the above, CHASS wishes to state emphatically that, schools continue to be in very precarious financial and food situations and something urgent needs to be done to permanently resolve these occurrences or at least, assuage their re-occurrences. CHASS is convinced that, these are avoidable problems. We proffered a lot of options in our communiqué issued at the heels of our recent Annual Conference held at Koforidua from the 9th-15th October, 2022.

You may please consider the issues proffered therein and do a broader stake holder consultation so as to nib these avoidable problems at the bud.”

Source: A1radioonline.com|101.1MHz|Mark Kwasi Ahumah Smith|Ghana

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