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Implementation of school feeding programme in Upper East Region problematic

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The External Affairs Manager for Afrikids, Raymond Ayinne, is worried about the disruptive implementation of the Ghana School Feeding Programme in the Upper East Region. 

Speaking on A1 Radio’s Day Break Upper East Show with Mark Smith today, Mr. Ayinne explained that the school feeding programme is essential for retaining students in school and allowing them to concentrate on their classes. 

He recounted that in a rather unfortunate situation in one of the districts of the Upper East Region, a young student was hit by a bus because he crossed a busy street in an attempt to go home and find for himself an afternoon meal. 

Mr. Ayinne made these comments in connection with the celebration of the Global Action Week of Education (GAWE). The External Affairs Manager of Afrikids explained that as part of the celebration of GAWE, CSOs in education in northern Ghana would be visiting selected pre-tertiary schools in the region to collect information about the challenges facing the schools. 

“We are going to look at whether the cooking or its non-existence and its effects on learners. It would also be an opportunity to meet the teachers and the caterers and then also speak to the school feeding coordinators to understand what is happening. We know that the amount that the government pays to these caterers is not enough. We are very interested in the effects of non-feeding.”

“I visited a school in Binduri and a teacher clearly remembers that a student came to the teacher at midday that he was hungry and he wanted to go home. The teacher insisted that given the fact that they were going to close around 1pm, he should just hold on and so she [the teacher] engaged the child. She took the child closer to her so that she could keep an eye on her. She had over 60 children to look after and so at a point, she didn’t realise that the child had left the classroom and tried to cross the highway, which is the Bolga-Bawku highway, to the other side of the road to his home and was hit by one of these large buses. When I think about this child, this child needed just a meal to stay in school. A hot meal which we, as a country, promised and failed. If the child had died, it would have been on us,” he said. 

The Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition (GNECC) is a network of Civil Society Organizations that is committed to promoting access to an Inclusive Quality and Enjoyable Pre-tertiary Education as a fundamental human right.

Global Action Week (GAW) of Education is one of the coalition’s major yearly activities celebrating education in Ghana. The GAWE is an initiative of the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) of which GNECC is a member. 

The celebration networks organisations and individuals interested in quality education worldwide to advocate for quality and equal education for all. While the government bears the greatest responsibility to ensure that everyone has an education, it is the duty of civil society in reminding governments not only of their commitments but also of their obligations toward ensuring education for all. As in the past, GNECC is leading the celebration of GAW 2023 in Ghana from 18-24 April 2023, under the global theme “Decolonizing Education Financing”.

Statistics from the 2021 Population and Housing Census (PHC) revealed that 1,215,546 children of school-going age (4 to 17 years) in Ghana are not attending school. Out of that number, almost one million (942,427) children have never attended school. The Savannah Region has 43.2 percent of children who have never attended a school which is the highest percentage in the country.

The Government of Ghana’s 12.9% budgetary allocation to the education sector in the 2023 national budget indicates an increase as compared to the 2022 allocation. However, this falls below the target Ghana has set for itself in 2021 during the Global Education Summit held in the United Kingdom where the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo, who is also the GPE champion for domestic financing for education, pledged to spend at least 23% of the national budget on education over the medium term from 2021 to 2025. This pledge was repeated in Ghana’s National Commitment Statement that was presented at the 2022 Transforming Education Summit. It is important to remind ourselves as a country of the need to fulfil these commitments that signify our collective efforts towards the achievement of the SDG 4 targets.

The Ministry of Education, in a bid to ensure education development in Ghana, organises the National Education Week (NEW) annually to assess the performance of the sector and plan for the next year. In lieu of this GNECC as a mouthpiece for CSOs in education in Ghana, organises a CSO independent assessment of the education sector meeting (Pre-NEW) with the participation of its members and partners, prior to the annual National Education Week. 

The proposed national theme for the 2023 GAWE celebration in Ghana is dubbed: “Domestic Funding: Key to Sustainable Basic Education”. The theme is rotated in the Sustainable Development Goal 4 agenda: “Ensuring inclusive equitable quality education and life-long learning opportunities for all,” The coalition is of the view that just as a vehicle can hardly reach its destination without sufficient fuel so will the country not be able to achieve the above-mentioned goal without sound and sustainable domestic funding.

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

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