Government assisted second-cycle institutions in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions may not reopen for the second term of the 2016/2017 academic year if funds are not released for the payment of outstanding debts owed food suppliers.
The Northern Regional Director of Education, Alhaji Mohammed Haroon, confirmed to the Daily Graphic that the government was in arrears of the feeding grant to second-cycle schools in the region.
He was reacting to an appeal by the Northern Regional branch of the parent-teacher association (PTA) to the government to expedite action on the payment of arrears of feeding grants to government assisted schools in the three northern regions.
In a statement, the association said it had been reliably informed that the schools were indebted to food suppliers for three terms.
“As parents, we are appealing to the government, through the Director-General of the Ghana Education Service (GES), to expedite action on the payment of the arrears of feeding grants,” the statement quoted the parents as saying.
The association further stated that the postponement of the reopening date of the schools, as threatened by the headmasters, would have adverse effects on the academic work of their children.
“In this regard, we respectfully and humbly appeal to you to use your good offices to impress upon the Ministry of Finance to release the grant to enable the boarding schools in the three regions to reopen on January 5, 2017, as scheduled by the GES,” the statement added.
Regional director’s response
Alhaji Haroon, however, appealed to the chairpersons of the Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS) in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions not to reschedule the reopening date for second-cycle schools in the three regions.
He said he was in touch with the Director-General of the GES for the release of the arrears of the feeding grant to the schools.
He further appealed to food suppliers not to cut food supplies, as efforts were being made to settle the arrears.
When asked when the money would be released for the payment of the feeding grant, he could not give any timeline, as the schools were scheduled to reopen on January 5, 2017.
The delay in the release of the feeding grant to schools in the three northern regions has been a perennial problem.
In the early part of 2014, 83 SHSs in the three regions in the north had to reopen partially by admitting only final-year students due to the non-payment of the feeding grant owed them by the government.
In an effort to enhance access to education in the northern sector, governments have, over the years, been paying the feeding grant for the schools in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions and some selected schools in the northern part of the Volta and Brong Ahafo regions.
This is different from the subsidy which is enjoyed by all SHSs, technical and vocational institutes in the country.