June 21, 2017 By Patrick Jaiah Kamara & Elizabeth Kaine
The Director of school feeding programme has blamed the delay in the implementation of the project on the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED).
Mr. Sylvester Meheaux said although they have presented all relevant documents to MoFED for action, they were yet to receive a call from the ministry with regards the disbursement of funds to various schools.
“We have presented all our documents to finance. But the intelligent unit at the ministry told us to use B-band in order to prevent money going into the wrong account. Today finally, we have made all the corrections. So, hopefully the school feeding will start next week by God’s grace”, he said.
Mr Meheaux said they had wanted to bring transparency into the system that was why they asked all schools to resend their bank accounts to the directorate for onward transmission to MoFED
“The danger about it is that if you send money into somebody’s personal account and if there is any loophole, somebody will capitalize on it and then, you will begin to criticize us that we have not planned properly. But, I want to assure you that it’s quite a good programme”, he said.
He disclosed they would organise a workshop with teachers at the end of July regarding the challenges they faced and the way forward for the project.
Mr. Meheaux said the programme would be a continuous process, reiterating that the delay was also due to the addition of schools to the initial list presented during the first and second term.
“This delay can also be attributed to the additional number of schools on our list. The number was small during the first and second term, but it was increased to about 245 for this third term,” he said.
Even though Mr. Meheaux said they have added new schools on the list, Head Teacher of St. John Primary School, Prince E.M Clarkson, stated that his school was yet to be included in the feeding programme.
In 2015, the Ministry of Education Science and Technology, through the President’s Recovery Priorities and the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), started a nationwide school-feeding programme, targeting over 1 million pupils in over 2,307 primary schools across the country.
Pupils were fed one meal a day, twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) in all targeted government-assisted schools.
The school-feeding programme was intended to increase enrollment, attendance and retention in schools but since it has stalled, attendance in most primary schools has dropped, according to head teachers.
Head Teacher of Wallace Johnson Municipal primary school (infants), Mrs Gwendolyn Caulker, told Concord Times that since the indefinite suspension of the programme, attendance has dropped drastically.
“Pupils used to come to school in plain clothes, especially on the days they expected food. They have been persistently asking about the programme since it was halted indefinitely,” she said.
On his part, Reverend Komba Gbembo, who is in charge of classes 4-6 of the same school expressed similar sentiment.
He said the feeding programme was a good initiative, especially at the time when it was difficult for parents to provide launch for their children.