Africa-Press – Ghana. Some schools in the Ledzokuku Municipality have started recording pupil absenteeism following the decision of caterers of the School Feeding Programme to suspend their services until their demands are met by government.
The caterers have failed to feed pupils with one hot meal a day since the reopening of school for the second term. The withdrawal of service is over delay in the payment of feeding grants for two terms and calls for increment of the grant from 0.97 pesewas to three Ghana cedis (GH¢3.00) per child.
Checks by the Ghana News Agency in the Municipality indicate that some pupils have stopped coming to school due to the inability of their parents to give them money for lunch.
Madam Patience Adams-Brown, School Health Education Programme Coordinator, Bedrock Municipal Education Directorate, told the GNA that most public basic schools in the area were recording absenteeism over feeding issues since school reopened.
“Now we have some pupils absenting themselves over the caterers’ absence. They are not coming to school because there is no food for them,” she said.
She said this when the GNA visited the Teshie LEKMA Cluster of Schools in the Municipality. She said, in some instances, teachers had to provide launch for some pupils so they could be attentive in class.
Mrs Adams-Brown said the situation was affecting teaching and learning in public basic schools in the area and appealed to government to meet the demands of the caterers to have them back in schools.
Mr Francis Acolatse, Headmaster of Teshie LEKMA ‘12’ Basic School, said the situation was worrying in view of the low numbers they had recorded since the reopening of school.
He said for the past two weeks there was no good for the pupils, making it difficult for those in school to concentrate on studies. Ms Esther Nortey, a Primary Five pupil in the School, said the money her parents gave her was not enough to take care of her breakfast and launch.
She said the situation made it difficult for her to come to school some days in the week. Master Martin Awuku, a Primary Two pupil, said his parents sometimes gave him additional money for lunch.
He, however, said on days he did not get extra money for lunch, he found it difficult to stay in school, especially during lunchtime. The situation is the same in other public basic schools in Accra .
In some instances, a few of the pupils brought food from home whereas others who could not bring food from home bought food from vendors in and around the schools.
A caterer was seen cooking in one of the schools. Meanwhile, Mr Siiba Alfa, Head of Public Relations, Ghana School Feeding Programme, said the caterers would be settled by the end of the month. He said they had processed the data and submitted it to the Controller and Accountant General’s Department for payment of the arrears.
“Per our calculations, it is likely and possible for them to receive their grants by close of next week. We hope not to disappoint them this time around as we have receive assurance from Controller,” he stressed.
Mr Alfa said their concerns for increment of fee per child from 97Gp to GH¢3.00 was being worked on. He appealed to the caterers to return to work while the issues were addressed.
The School Feeding Programme, which started in 2005, provides children in selected public primary schools one hot nutritious meal prepared from locally grown foodstuffs every school going day. The aim is to increase school enrollment and encourage punctuality among pupils as well as enable them to concentrate in class.