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“One hot meal a day” initiative takes off on a good note

Cynthia Mamle Morrison, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection

The government’s initiative to provide one hot meal a day to junior high school students taking their exams is proceeding smoothly across the country, Cynthia Mamle Morrison, Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, has said.

Mrs Morrison, who is touring parts of the country to monitor the initiative, said that with the exception of one formal complaint, the exercise has been smooth so far.

The minister was speaking to Nana Yaa Mensah this morning on The Asaase Breakfast Show about the progress of the initiative, which began on Monday 24 August.

Feedback from schools

“It is happening nationwide,” the minister said. “Every public school and every private school, every student writing the BECE [Basic Education Certificate Examination], together with teachers and their supporting staff, are benefiting.

“It’s this morning that I had one report. I went round with the Chief of Staff myself.

“I know definitely we are going to have some few challenges, so we have given [the schools] forms to fill to assess the quality of the meals being provided,” she said. Both staff and parents have the opportunity to feed back on the food given to students.

“There are just some few challenges,” Mrs Morrison told ABS. “Some schools were not located. Two schools tell me the caterers did not turn up. So I have asked them to look at it – if [the caterers] are not ready, we change them.

“With a few exceptions, we have residents coming together, saying, ‘We want to support you.’ But 98% of those providing the schools [with the free hot meals] are under the School Feeding Programme.”

Presidential directive

Mrs Morrison asked those who wish to extend support to the programme in kind to desist, in order to limit the degree of person-to-person interaction.

“We are doing this because of the COVID-19. The caterers are not coming, so that is why we have taken up the responsibility,” she said.

In his 15th address to the nation on measures being taken to contain the novel coronavirus disease, President Akufo-Addo directed the Gender Ministry to provide a free hot meal every day to all JHS students who are writing their BECE.

The exercise, which started on 24 August, will run throughout the exam period and end on 18 September.

Fred Dzakpata

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