The under-pressure headmasters besieged the vehicles of some officials of the Ghana School Feeding Programme and the World Food Programme (WFP) who had visited the district for joint monitoring and vehemently poured out their frustrations.
They demanded that their schools be included in the Programme before they collapse.
The headmasters namely Simpoe Yaw of Yeji R/C Primary ‘B’, Ismael N. Khalid of Daru Saeed Islamic Primary and Frederick Dapaah of Yamba D/A Primary School said that most of their pupils were from extremely poor homes and as a result had to come to school on empty stomachs.
“Most parents don’t give their wards any money for feeding and they don’t also cook for the children before they come to school. So therefore, when those hungry children see that in the other nearby schools they are enjoying free school feeding meals they quickly decide to join those schools”.
According to them, the situation has affected most of the schools that are non-beneficiaries of the school feeding programme.
The headmasters claimed that they have made several complaints and even invited the District Chief Executive for the area to their schools to assess the situation but they only receive assurances.
The District Chief Executive (DCE) for Pru East, Joshua Kwaku Abonkrah, who later joined the GSFP/WFP joint monitoring team, confirmed the claims by the headmasters.
According to him, he personally made efforts and wrote to the national secretariat of the Ghana School Feeding Programme for more schools but could only get four additional schools to be captured under the Programme.
He said that the entire district currently has only 11 schools that are benefiting from the School Feeding Programme.
Mr. Abonkrah, therefore, added his voice to the calls by the frustrated headmasters and called the management of the Ghana School Feeding Programme to increase the number of beneficiary schools in the district in order to save most of the non-beneficiary schools from collapsing.
The DCE revealed that the Programme is serving as a great motivation to the majority of school children in the area most of whom are from extremely poor homes.
He said that previously the district being a prominent fishing area had a large number of school going age children who preferred to trade or labour on the river (Volta Lake) to going to school.
“But upon assumption of office, I have managed to push majority of the children into school through advocacy and community sensitizations. So it will be a great disincentive to some of us if all those children should go back to fishing because both their parents and the government cannot feed them to continue to stay in school.”
Mr. Abonkrah was optimistic that the government would consider increasing the number of beneficiary schools in the district anytime there is an opportunity for expansion.
He appealed to the headmasters and the teachers in the district to keep their spirit high as he continues to lobby the authorities concerned.
The DCE also cautioned all parents to send their children of school-going age to school rather than using them as labourers on the farms and for fishing.