In the wake of food shortages that have hit Senior High Schools in Ghana, Wesley Girls Senior High School, an A-rated school in the Central Regional Capital has collected an amount of Ghc1,000 from parents in order to feed their wards for a term.
Although Secondary School is supposed to be absolutely free under the Free SHS program, following food shortage, authorities at Wesley Girls in a meeting agreed with the parents to pay an amount of Ghc1000 to ensure their wards are well-fed with quality well-balanced meals.
The Cape Coast school is one of many Senior High Schools in Ghana under the Free SHS program that has been hit by food shortage due to alleged lack of resources to support the program. The Buffer Stock Company has also been struggling to provide food to support the schools.
Some parents told this portal that although they were not forced by the school to pay the amount, the school authorities wanted the matter of the payment to be confidential and secret as government could take action against the school if it came to light.
Another parent who considered the amount excessive said majority of the parents could afford hence there was little room for consideration of those who couldn’t afford it. Other parents also feared their wards could be victimized by Wesley Girls authorities if they refused to pay or questioned the amount.
The school met the parents and agreed that instead because there was shortage of bread, Mackerel, sugar, cooking oil, rice and flour among other essential commodities used in preparing food for the children, parents should come in on their own terms.
The situation in Wesley Girls SHS was said to have reached dire and deteriorated levels where the students went to the Dining hall because it was compulsory but could not eat due to the food situation where students took their own bread and sugar for breakfast.
Wesley Girls is not the only school affected but is so far the only school to levy parents for feeding purposes. It is not clear if the others are also doing same secretly.
Schools such as Labone SHS, Accra Academy, Accra Girls, Presec Legon, Achimota, St Marys and many more schools in the Greater Accra, Central Region, Ashanti Region, Upper East/West and the Volta Region are affected.
So called big schools include Mfantsipim School, Opoku Ware, Prempeh College, St. Augustine’s College, Adisadel College, Ghana National College, Yaa Asantewaa Girls, St. Louis are all affected.
Porridge like light soup
A student of Mfantsipim School said the porridge served to them in the school has no sugar and is light like water.
“The porridge is too light and without bread and so in the morning I don’t go to the dining hall.” He is quoted by a sister media outlet earlier.
Another student said: “Sometimes the quantity is small.”
The headmaster of the school Rev. Ebenezer Aidoo said the food situation was dire, but the school was working around the clock to address the situation.
The Headmaster of St Augustine’s, Henry Arthur-Gyan, also said the school had no option but to manage the situation.
“We know there are challenges and so we manage with what we are provided. There is not much we can do about it,” he stated.
On the part of Ashanti Regional Chairman of the conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS), Rev. Fr Stephen Owusu Sekyere, most schools in the region were facing an inadequate supply of food items, with the major challenge being vegetables, palm oil, sugar and flour.
Rev. Fr Sekyere, who doubles as the Headmaster of the Opoku Ware School (OWASS), said at times “students come to the dining hall with their own sugar. But we have been managing with the little we have and when it gets finished, we wait for the supplier.”
“Because I don’t want the students to demonstrate during my tenure, at times I have to dig into my pocket to buy some of the items from the open market just to ensure that the students are okay,” he said.
He said at times when the supply came, “we get about five gallons of oil, which do not last two weeks for a student population of over 3,000.”
“This is even for schools in the metropolis; you can imagine what those in the hinterlands are going through,” he added.