Assessing the Ideological Foundations and Relevance of the School Feeding Policy in Ghana: Implementation Challenges and Lessons for the Future

Assessing the Ideological Foundations and Relevance of the School Feeding Policy in Ghana: Implementation Challenges and Lessons for the Future

Joseph Ezale Cobbinah (University of Ghana, Ghana)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/IJPAE.2019100104

Abstract

This article critically examines the school feeding policy in Ghana. The policy became operational in the year 2005. It was part of the nation's effort to curb a drop in school enrolment that became a global concern which became part of the United Nations (UN) global efforts to reduce poverty in many parts of the world. The drop in school enrolment was attributed to poverty, hunger, and inequality in many deprived communities. So, to address those problems, the UN initiated various forms of interventions in member nations as part of efforts to improve school enrolment, reduce inequality and poverty. Ghana initiated a school feeding that was aimed at providing at least one hot meal a day for every child at the basic school level. Implementation of the policy has faced a lot of challenges and lack of political will. Some critics therefore argue that alternative policy initiatives should be considered to improve or replace the existing school feeding policy because although enrolment seem to go up, there is little evidence the policy is improving academic performance
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Introduction

The idea of school feeding programme started globally in the beginning of the new millennium when it became evident that primary school enrolment continued to drop in many developing countries (UNESCO, 2010; UN, 2015). The drop in enrolment was attributed to poverty and food insecurity in many parts of the world, more especially in the developing world (Bundy, Burbano, Gelli, Risley, & Neeser, 2011). However, to assist member states address the drop in enrolment, UN proposed a policy intervention that would address school attendance, improve enrolment and ensure that every child of school going age stay in school till they complete primary school (Quayea, Essegbey, Frempongb & Ruivenkamp, 2010; Sulemana, Ngah, & Majid, 2013). The drop in enrolment and children’s lack of attendance was attributed to poverty and so to address those problems, Ghana initiated the school feeding in its basic schools as a policy intervention.

Since poverty was a major issue for children to stay away from school, it was argued that if they were served at least one meal a day in school it would contribute towards eradication of hunger they face while in school, improve their daily nutritional supplement and make them stay in school. So some countries in the developing world adopted the school feeding proposed by the UN, which some critics argued was a form of ‘social safety net for children living in poverty and food insecurity, and as part of national educational policies and plans’ that would help address the drop in school enrolment (Bundy et al., 2011, p.201). Although the school feeding policy initiative started in the beginning of the new millennium, some countries like Kenya and Denmark had already implemented a similar intervention way back before the UN launched its idea. In Kenya, school feeding started in the 1960s (Foeken, Owuor and Mwangi, 2010) while in Denmark it started way back in the early nineteenth century (He and Mikkelsen, 2014).

The school feeding was proposed to address two of the UN millennium development goals (MDGs) 1 and 2 out of the eight development goals launched in the year 2000 (United Nations, 2015). According to UNESCO report, goals 1 expected member states to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, while goal 2 expected member states to improve their education system to ensure that all citizens of school going age could achieve universal primary education (UNESCO, 2007). The two goals in addition to the remaining six goals were to be achieved by the year 2015. Although we are in the year 2018, there is evidence that some countries have not been able to meet the first two goals, while other countries are still making efforts to achieve them (Ghana Statistical Service, 2013). The school feeding is a form of policy initiative that is used to fill an opportunity gap in education, but requires urgent action and strong political will and commitment (Brown, Lauder and Ashton, 2012). It is a policy action that would enable every child of school going age stay in school which hitherto would not have been possible. Besides, it enables those who may not have access to education have opportunity to develop their potential because education is a public good that must be enjoyed by every citizen. This form of policy action should have two major purposes –to eradicate poverty by eliminating extreme hunger and to increase school enrolment at the primary level (Quayea et al., 2010; McArthur, 2014) as spelt out in the UN MDGs.

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