NATIONAL SCHOOL FEEDING POLICY
November 17, 2015 1:33 pm
In several parts of the world, school meals and school feeding have been used as an effective mechanism for addressing child nutrition, educational enrolment and retention and hygiene issues. They have also effectively provided income-generation, employment creation and economic integration benefits to communities in which they have been implemented. Other countries have experienced gender-related gains, reliable markets for farmers as well as innovations in agro-processing. The Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) has the potential to contribute to the national social protection agenda in these ways.
GSFP was initiated in 2005 as a social protection intervention in the context of the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) Pillar III and in response to the first and second Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Over two decades of implementation, the programme has evolved and periodically, witnessed efforts at improving targeting, quality, monitoring, procurement governance and social accountability. At present, the programme is providing one hot and adequately nutritious meal to 1,693,698 pupils in 4,881 schools per each school day. The programme provides employment to about 20,000 caterers and cooks nationwide.
The Ghanaian Government under His Excellency John Mahama has endeavoured to consolidate its social protection interventions, in an attempt to leverage integrated benefits for poor and vulnerable individuals, households and communities. As part of this process, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) was created and assigned strategic oversight of the sector and charged with formulation of the development of a National Social Protection Policy and other relevant instruments. The Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) which had since its inception, been located under the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) was transferred to the MoGCSP. The transfer is welcome because it provides a critical opportunity to link social assistance (through income replacement) to productive and social inclusion and synchronize school feeding with other efforts to improve the fortunes of disadvantaged families and food crop farmers.
However, this implies institutional strengthening of school feeding at the national, regional and district levels and a re-orientation to productive inclusion. It also offers a valuable prospect for streamlining procedures to take advantage of emerging technology as well as review re-targeting to align it with other national social protection programmes. It also implies vigorous change management processes and capacity-building amongst stakeholders.
The efforts to address its challenges including addressing its public image, strengthening financial management, human resource capacity, procurement governance, monitoring and evaluation and social accountability have to be integrated into a holistic and purposeful undertaking. It is in this regard, that the secondary social protection policy on school feeding is necessary to assist the nation to organize and deliver the programme in ways that would provide optimum benefits.
It is presented as a companion policy document to the National Social Protection Policy in order to present the analysis of the peculiar problems as well as the considerable prospects of school feeding in Ghana. It offers strategies for re-positioning, strengthening and effective delivery. However, School Feeding is provided for in the National Social Protection Policy as a flagship
programme. It therefore will work within the coordination, communication, targeting, monitoring, evaluation and reporting arrangements outlined in the parent policy. This companion policy document reflects the policy of “working–together” of different sectoral interventions and encourages the support of partners and stakeholders for the common purpose of social protection.
The School Feeding Programme (SFP) like the other national social protection flagship programmes provide an opportunity to pursue Ghana’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 1 which seeks to end poverty in all its forms everywhere and Goal 2, which aims at ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition while promoting sustaining agriculture fall within this purview. Goal 4 seeks to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education opportunities is very important as it seeks to enhance access of girls and boys to quality early childhood development and ensure their access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round.
The goal of the School Feeding Policy is to deliver a well-organized, decentralized intervention providing disadvantaged school children with nutritionally adequate, locally produced food thereby reducing poverty through improved household incomes and effective local economic development. The policy envisions rapid national socio-economic development achieved through a coordinated, integrated and accountable national school feeding programme.
The policy objectives include providing sustainable social development support to children in deprived Ghanaian communities; strengthening collaboration and coordination between national and sub-national actors; fostering local economic development in food production, marketing and processing; and promoting local collaboration and joint ownership of child nutrition, health promotion and education by local authorities, communities and stakeholders.
It provides cross-cutting interventions related to gender-sensitivity and social inclusivity, social accountability, environmental management and sustainability and image building and information management for school feeding.
A national school feeding programme that achieves wins for local economic development, agricultural productivity, poverty reduction and social justice is possible. One that covers far more children than it does presently will make a considerable difference and help to achieve the national socio-economic development characterised by improved nutrition for disadvantaged school children, reliable markets for local farmers, effective local catering services and enhanced local incomes. The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection takes the opportunity to thank all the different institutions and stakeholders who contributed to the development of this policy and sustaining the School Feeding Programme to date and invites the support of all in making the vision a reality.