Claim: Government has suspended School Feeding Programme
It is a planned expansion of the School Feeding Programme that has been suspended, not the programme itself.
Social media, particularly Facebook, has been awash with reports of the government’s decision to suspend the implementation of the School Feeding programme, a policy introduced to provide one hot meal a day to pupils in basic education.
A senior journalist, Alfred Ogbamey, and other Facebook users, as can be seen here and here triggered what became a bout of controversy over the future of a policy that sustained many pupils in school over the last decade.
Mainstream online media houses, including Adomonline.com and hotstoriesghana.com were not left out of the controversy with reports claiming the government had suspended the programme following years of indebtedness to the caterers.
All the reports were attributed to the caretaker Minister of Gender and Social Protection Mrs Cecilia Dapaah who appeared before Parliament on Wednesday March 3, 2022, to answer a number of questions concerning her ministry.
The response by Mrs Dapaah to the question on school feeding later became the subject of controversy with a tinge of partisanship, especially on Facebook.
The School Feeding Programme was introduced in 2005 as a social protection intervention under the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) Pillar III and was in response to meeting the first and second Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Having followed the controversy and the heated exchanges on facebook and other online platforms, DUBAWA decided to fact-check the claim and to see if the 17-year-old policy had been put to bed, at least for a while.
We first called Alfred Ogbarmey to find out from him if, beyond the Minister’s response from Parliament, he had additional information that suggested the School Feeding Programme had been suspended in whole or in part.
He was emphatic that his comment on Facebook was wholly based on the Minister’s pronouncements on the floor of Parliament, insisting that expanding the school Feeding Programme has always been part of the programme itself and that if the expansion has been suspended he was not wrong in stating that part of the Programme had been suspended.
But others were even more vehement in the claim suggesting the entire programme had been suspended.
DUBAWA then proceeded to Parliament to find the exact question posed to the minister in charge and her exact response. On the Order Paper, which outlines the business of Parliament each day, the Yilo Krobo MP, Albert Tetteh Nyakotey asked the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection “when the School Feeding Programme would be extended to the following schools in the Yilo Krobo Municipality: (i) Apersua M/A Primary School (ii) Besease Donguanor R/C Primary School (iii) Esuan Yilo M/A Primary School (iv)  Klo – Agogo Presbyterian Basic School (v) Klo -Agogo R/C Basic School (vi) Klo – Agogo Anglican Primary School (vii) Klo Agogo M/A Basic School (viii) Nkurakan M/A Basic School (ix) Nsutapong Methodist Basic School (x) Obawale Methodist KG/Primary School (xi) Perpertifi M/A KG/Primary School (xii) Sawer M/A KG/Primary School (xiii) Tsremati – Donguanor M/A Basic School (xiv) Aboa – Osuboniya Basic School (xv) Nsutapong M/A KG/Primary School (xvi) Tsakatsakami M/A Primary School.”
The response by the minister was as follows as evidenced in 1:51-2:23 of the attached video.
“Currently, the expansion of the programme is on hold. We are clearing all arrears of caterers and putting in place measures to ensure effective and efficient service delivery to all beneficiaries as well as caterers. We are also putting in place a Management Information System to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of the system. We shall surely inform the house when we are ready to expand the programme to cover additional schools.”
Despite the response by the caretaker Minister, DUBAWA proceeded to the School Feeding Secretariat to find out the true situation of the policy.
In a conversation, the Communications Officer at the Secretariat, Isaac Essel, said the claims on social media and mainstream online platforms about the suspension of the school feeding programme was a clear case of “misreporting.”
He said at no point did the minister announce suspension of the policy.
Providing a background to the question posed by the MP, Isaac Essel explained that the Finance Minister in the 2022 budget statement had announced the expansion of the policy which was supposed to cover over 4 million children in basic schools.
According to him, the policy currently covers some 3.4million children which was about 80% of the student population in basic school. The intention of the government, he noted, was to cover the entire student population in the current financial year. As a follow up to the Finance Minister’s expansion announcement, the MP for Yilo Krobo wanted to find out when his constituents will receive their fair share of the hot meal policy.
“So in an answer to the question on the floor of Parliament, the Gender Minister stated that the expansion policy has been put on hold. I am surprised some media houses completely misreported what the minister said,” he stated.
In conclusion, DUBAWA can say it is false and misleading for anyone to suggest the School Feeding Programme had been suspended. Rather it is the planned expansion of the programme that has been put on hold and not the entire programme itself.