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Editorial: Our hungry schoolchildren deserve dignity and safety

OpinionEditorial: Our hungry schoolchildren deserve dignity and safety

World-famous author of cookbooks, Louis Parrish, says, “If you can organise your kitchen, you can organise your life”.

The Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) was initiated in 2005 to enhance food security and reduce hunger in line with the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGS) on hunger, poverty and malnutrition.

The policy is also aimed at increasing enrolment, prevent starvation and improve nutrition in basic schools.

A public concern about the quality and the quantity of the meals being served to the school-going beneficiaries has been a constant companion of the programme for many years nationwide.

The ills of the implementation of the policy are obvious. The complaints coming daily from concerned citizens are so loud and clear. But the government is unconcerned.

The government is not bothered probably because the schoolchildren who are at the receiving end of the pathetic ladles from which the poor meals are being served are not the children of any government appointees.

Whether the programme is running in accordance with its aims or not is the least of the government’s worries. All the government cares about is to keep the programme just running for campaign’s sake.

On May 4, 2023, some cooks were spotted preparing food in the open for schoolchildren at Tindama Primary/Junior High School in Wa, capital of Ghana’s Upper West Region.

The scene drew public health concerns from a number of people who were passing through the fenceless premises of the school when the food was being prepared. Their concerns were justifiable because the environment in itself, with dirty drains gaping and houseflies hovering around a nearby open urinal, was not ideal for open preparation of meals.

The cooks are preparing and serving meals to the children outside in such an environment clearly because there is no kitchen and the government, from the local level to the central echelon, simply does not care.   

There are many other schools across the country which are on the GSFP list but do not have a kitchen where the safety of the meals being prepared and served can be guaranteed.

Decision cannot wait on this lapse particularly as the rains have set in with the domestic flies that are well known for contaminating food and spreading cholera among other infectious diseases.

If the safety of the consumers of the free meals cannot be guaranteed, the aim of the policy stands defeated from start. Although our schoolchildren are hungry and are not related to any government appointee, they deserve dignity and safety when they are being fed with the funds that the government receives from donors on their behalf.

A roadside signpost pointing at the school in Wa, Upper West Region.

For the sake of the children and for the sake of the country’s image, Media Without Borders asks the government to borrow a page from Louis Parrish’s words: “If you can organise your kitchen, you can organise your life”.

Source: Media Without Borders/mwbonline.org

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