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Ghana’s Approach to Social Protection and Inclusion Tokenistic – Kofi Asare

Executive Director of Africa Education Watch, Kofi Asare, has bemoaned the government’s poor approach to social protection and inclusion programmes particularly, the school feeding programme.

According to him, successive governments have treated such social protection and inclusion programmes with a tokenistic outlook, rather than a deliberate government policy.

He was speaking in connection to the ongoing strike action announced by the caterers under the schools feeding programme in the Ashanti and Greater Accra regions.

The caterers are demanding an increase in monies allocated towards the programme due to high inflation and rising cost of foodstuff.

Currently, under the school feeding programme, each pupil is allocated only 97 pesewas – an amount the caterers say is not enough and thus must be increased to at least three cedi per pupil.

Speaking on JoyNews’ PM Express, Kofi Asare urged government to stop looking at these social protection programmes as an act of charity and instead take a realist approach to funding the programme.

“You see, I keep saying this that in Ghana, our approach towards social protection and inclusion or if you like, disability rights is normally that of an act of charity or pure tokenism, pure tokenism. Because in 2018 when the per unit cost of the school feeding programme was increased to 97 or 98 pesewas, at that same time, lunch for day students in senior high schools was about one cedi sixty pesewas. That was in 2018.

“Today lunch for senior high schools is three cedis. So why is it that still lunch for basic school pupils is still 97 or 98 pesewas? You understand? So one, the approach in the Education sector is a realist approach that takes into full cognizance the effect of price changes. But the other approach, I will call it an act of charity, that we’ll just throw anything we have at them and they will manage,” he said.

He continued, “I don’t think social protection should be approached as an act of charity or a tokenistic venture. It has to be a deliberate policy by government, it is a responsibility. And so yes, the 97 pesewas is nothing to write home about, it’s a non-starter, and it cannot facilitate the attainment of the objective of the school feeding programme.

“And that is why we’re saying that the three cedis the caterers are demanding is consistent with economic realities because the caterers buy from the same market that the senior high school caterers buy their foodstuff, so why is it that one person’s lunch is three cedis which they’re even crying is still inadequate and another person’s lunch is below one cedi?

“So there’s a problem and I believe that yes these are two different ministries but as I’m saying the approach in funding social protection in Ghana is not convincing to me to be called a priority.”

Source : Myjoyonline