SHS Heads cry out as govt fails to release funds for supplies
Senior High Schools across the country are currently grappling with food shortage as a result of the government’s failure to meet its financial obligation to food suppliers contracted by the National Buffer Stock Company. The Conference of Heads of Assisted Schools (CHASS) has issued a distress call to the President and warned that students will be asked to provide their own meals or sent home if there’s no intervention by government by Friday,15th July, 2022.
In a statement released by the Upper West regional block of CHASS, the headmasters also called for the suspension of all school activities which involve cash outlays since the schools are currently cash strapped. They insist that “all workshops and other activities which involve the payment of money should be suspended since it is becoming impossible for schools to pay for these activities”. According to the statement, the non-payment of the arrears to due the food suppliers “has led to serious food shortages in all schools” and forewarned that “most schools cannot go beyond one week if nothing urgent is done about it”
There have been widespread reports of food shortages in Senior High Schools across the country for days, and now amidst the ongoing industrial action declared by the various teacher unions in the country in demand for what they call the Cost of Living Allowance(COLA) to meet up with the rising cost of living in the country. The indefinite strike action, which is having a thump on the students, especially final year students is now being compounded by the food crises.
A visit to some schools by DFS Live News in Accra reveals a significant reduction in the quantity and quality of meals served students in their various dining halls-a situation that confirms reports of inadequate food supplies in the food stores. The school Heads the news team contacted refused to comment on the situation and those who reluctantly spoke neither confirmed nor denied the crisis. The situation has compelled many boarding students to return home since that appears to be the only way out for them to avoid being starved. Whiles schools in the Upper West region have decided to suspend all sporting and cultural activities at all levels with immediate effect due to the non-payment of fund, there are indications of schools in other regions also following in this footstep in the days ahead.
As it stands this week, Matrons are only going to be managing the inadequate stock “available in the schools’ food stores and students will be asked to bring their own sugar and other [food] items to the dining halls”, as the statement further noted. There were reports in May this year that the government owes food suppliers to the tune of Ghc500m, a debt which hasn’t been settled till now hence the distress call by the school Heads to government to save the situation from total collapse. In the Opoku Ware Senior High School (OWASS), Rev. Fr Sekyere who is the headmaster of the school stated that “at times students come to the dining hall with their own sugar”
As the country braces itself for austere measures as a result of the Akufo-Addo led government’s ongoing engagement with the International Monetary Fund ( IMF) for a bailout, the mounting pressure to pay the food suppliers, coupled with agitations from teacher unions for a 20% pay rise present a daunting task.