The Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Otiko Afisah Djaba has said that the ruling government led by Nana Akufo-Addo will not lose focus on securing better future for all children of Ghana.
According to her, the government believed in the development of the Ghanaian child and had resolved to invest in their education, health and protection of their rights at all levels.
The Gender Minister, who joined several hundreds of basic school children in some parts of Accra to celebrate My First Day at School, charged the pupils to be committed to their education for a better future.
Madam Otiko Djaba encouraged them to continue to stay in school without allowing any social, cultural, religious, economic or any other forces to disrupt or drop them out of school. This she said was the only way they could also enjoy the Free Senior High School (FSHS) policy of the government which was rolled out this month, September 2017.
The Minister’s visit was to assess the work of the caterers of the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) and to interact with the pupils who are direct beneficiaries of the programme.
At the South La Estate Primary 1,2 and 3 in the La Dade Kotopon Municipality, Otiko Djaba accompanied by the National Coordinator of the Ghana School Feeding Programme, Dr. Adu Nsiah interacted with about 600 pupils who had reported on the first day out of the total of 720 pupils.
She was impressed about the high turn up of the pupils and the timely manner the caterers had finished and served the kids with quality jollof rice for the day.
Otiko Afisah Djaba
Ghana School Feeding Programme
The Minister engaged most of the pupils especially at the low primary in hearty interactions to find out about their impression on the quality and quantity of food being served by the caterers.
Madam Otiko Djaba emphasized that the government and for that matter, her ministry would ensure that no child of school going age missed out or dropped out of school for any reason.
She said that it was a crime for any parent to deny his or her child the right to formal education in the midst of the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) and the Ghana School Feeding Programme and by extension the introduction of the Free Senior High School education policy.
The Minister disclosed that in ensuring quality and quantity in the meal being served, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government had increased the School Feeding amount from 80 pesewas to 85 pesewas per child per every school day.
That notwithstanding, the government she said had also released an amount of GHC10 million to settle the outstanding debts for second and third terms of the 2016/2017 academic year owed the caterers under the Ghana School Feeding Programme.
Otiko Djaba said that her Ministry would not entertain laziness on the part of any caterer who would deny the kids their meal for even a day without any justification.
“As a government and Ministry, we are serious about this School Feeding Programme because of the purpose it is serving in the lives of school children in deprived schools. We are ensuring that all the challenges associated with the programme are addressed so as to increase enrollment and detention especially among children from poor homes,” she said.
She said that more home-grown foods (rice, maize and beans) would be introduced to the caterers to improve the nutritional values of the meal, put a smile on the faces of local farmers and improve the local economy.
The National Coordinator of the Ghana School Feeding Programme, Dr. Adu Nsiah said that about 5,528 deprived schools are benefiting from the programme with 1,671,777 beneficiary pupils.
The programme he indicated now covers 37% of total schools in the country and assured of government’s readiness to expand the programme to cover more schools.