The Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) with support from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Ghana has held a day's stakeholder consultative workshop to comprehensively review the draft Operational Manual for the implementation of the programme.
The objective of the workshop was to ensure broader engagement with Regional Coordinators, Zonal Coordinators and other regional staff to solicit input to enrich the content of the Manual.
It was also meant to brief participants about the GSFP revised operations manual and its implications for staff, stakeholders and strategic partners; solicit regional staff input before validation to ensure shared ownership of the manuals; stimulate participants' commitment and support in the new direction of implementing the programme with laid-down procedures; and to address pertinent implementation challenges on the programme.
Speaking at the workshop, National Coordinator of the Ghana School Feeding Programme Gertrude Quashigah said her secretariat is working hard to give school feeding a new face.
She, therefore, urged all the stakeholders including Regional and Zonal Coordinators to adjust to the new operational approach in order to help change the image of GSFP.
According to her, the roles of the Regional and Zonal Coordinators are very crucial in ensuring the smooth implementation of the Ghana School Feeding Programme.
Mrs. Quashigah noted that there had been several agitations from caterers and the general public about the operations of the Programme because some coordinators at the regional and zonal level have not been able to thoroughly discuss and disseminate information on the Programme.
“It is the collective responsibility of all of us to play our roles dutifully and to make sure that the face of School Feeding Programme is lifted and made attractive.”
She emphasized that most of the problems of Ghana School Feeding Programme could be minimized or avoided if the regional and zonal coordinators were living up to expectation.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Quashigah disclosed that her outfit was in talks with government for the release of funds to pay caterers for their 2nd term arrears of 2021 academic year.
She noted that efforts are also being made by the current government to procure new vehicles for the field operations and monitoring of the Programme.
Mrs. Quashigah took the opportunity to commend UNICEF for its support to the Programme especially in the area of technical assistance and capacity building.
The GSFP National Coordinator called for cordial relationship between all regional and zonal coordinators, on one hand, and all the caterers on the other hand in order to ensure efficiency and unity in their work.
The participants were taken through PowerPoint Presentations by the Consultant, William Niyuni, on how the GSFP Operational Manual would be implemented at the national, regional and district levels.
He disclosed that the Manual is divided into six chapters which describe the operations of the GSFP and explained the specific modalities and guidelines for the planning, implementation, monitoring and sustainable operation of the GSFP in all districts.
The Director of Operations at the GSFP, Doris Gaba, strongly decried the practice where caterers for no obvious reasons easily sideline their zonal and regional coordinators to report their concerns to the National Secretariat.
She also added her voice to the call for unity, urging the Zonal Coordinators to learn to work under instructions from their Regional Coordinators.
“If you have accepted to work with School Feeding, we have rules and regulations. We have supervisors so Zonal Coordinators work under Regional Coordinators per our organogram. Therefore, if you're not ready to take instructions from your Regional Coordinator; if you are not ready to give her your monitoring reports; if you are not ready to come for meetings anytime she invites you, then we have to take action against you.”
On her part, the Director of Monitoring and Evaluation for GSFP, Akyere Manu-Frimpong, encouraged the Regional Coordinators to take special interest in monitoring and recording non-cooking days against caterers who fail to cook for a number of days.
The workshop was organised for stakeholders in the Southern Zone comprising Western, Western North, Central, Greater Accra, Eastern, Volta and Oti Regions.
A similar workshop was held in Sunyani for those in the Northern Zone, comprising Ashanti, Bono, Bono East, Ahafo, Upper East, Upper West, Northern, Savannah and North East regions.