BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Global focus on poverty reduction as a way of speeding growth and maintaining development sparked interest in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as a foundation for development planning in the majority of developing nations. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a series of eight time-bound goals with clear, numerical benchmarks, were approved by the United Nations (UN) in September 2000 to address key global development challenges. Poverty and famine were among them, as were child education, gender equality, and women’s empowerment. The primary goal was to ensure that development touched everyone, everywhere. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have become essential to how countries and international development agencies carry out development initiatives, including poverty reduction measures (Apusigah, 2005; Todaro & Smith, 2009).
MDG 1’s target for eradicating extreme poverty and hunger is to a) halve the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 per day between 1990 and 2015, b) achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people, and c) halve the proportion of people who are below the minimum level of dietary energy consumption between 1990 and 2015. The second objective, to establish universal primary education, seeks to reach all children, boys and girls alike, by 2015, and to enable them to finish a full course of primary schooling (UN, 2005).
Since 1948, the United Nations (UN) has proclaimed education to be a fundamental human right and a prerequisite for the enjoyment of all other human rights in its “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” (UNDHR), Article 26. Nonetheless, millions of children and adults continue to be denied educational chances, often as a result of poverty (UNESCO, 1995). To attain its education goal, the UN organization campaigned for the elimination of school fees in member countries.
Globally, the poor endure food insecurity and, as a result, malnutrition. Early childhood malnutrition is known to decrease children’s intellectual potential and achievement. As a result of delayed mental development, this may result in substantial functional disability in adulthood. Jyoti, Frongillo, and Jones (2005) made the finding that children suffer the most in terms of social skills and capacities. Children in many areas of the globe come at school with empty stomachs, with some having participated in family labor before school. These youngsters lack the energy to concentrate or engage completely in school, and they frequently quit out. This contributed to the estimated 115 million school-aged children worldwide who are not enrolled in primary school, according to UNICEF (2006). Though considerable progress has been made since then, the number of primary-school-age children who are now denied the right to an education remains high at 68 million (UNESCO, 2010).
School feeding (SF) programs, as a result, provide a chance to decrease childhood hunger. As an incentive, parents who enroll their children and encourage them to stay in school receive more advantages in the form of school food. This method has been demonstrated to increase primary school enrollment in the world’s poorest areas in just one year (UNICEF, 2006). Feeding schoolchildren was not considered a state obligation a century ago. The National School Lunch Program was established in the United States in 1946. This was implemented by many industrialized countries in Europe and Japan, resulting in significant improvements in the education of children from disadvantaged neighborhoods (Morris, 2003; Rutledge, 2009). According to Rutledge (2009), there is policy development and dissemination indicating an emerging worldwide norm – a norm that there is a public obligation outside the home to feed school children.
Given that the majority of the poor in developing nations live in rural areas and rely on agriculture for a living, school feeding is currently regarded as a viable synergistic entry point to enhance educational performance and kick-start local agricultural development in Africa. Africa contains 49 percent of the world’s 77 million unschooled youngsters (Afoakwa & Chiwona-Karltun, 2007). According to Reuters (2009), over a million Ghanaian youngsters do not attend school because they must work to assist their parents pay their obligations. Poverty forces a significant number of these children to drop out of school (Niels-Hugo, 2006).
Every year, the Northern Region of Ghana faces food shortages for roughly five months (Quaye, 2008). The historical, geographical, and traditional patterns of food production are attributed to the level of poverty (Sutton, 1989; Songsore, 2003; Poel et al, 2007). Welfare indicators indicating a high level of poverty in the Northern Region include a low annual household per capita expenditure of GH303, 61 percent school attendance, a high proportion of the population aged 42.5 to 79.3 percent who have never attended school, and a 22.3 percent adult literacy rate (Ghana Statistical Service, 2008).
Over the years, a variety of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in the Northern Region have aided in poverty reduction operations such as health services, technical and material assistance to farmers, food for work, and school meals. SEND-Ghana has made major contributions to education, health, and poverty reduction in conjunction with its external partners, Christian Aid UK and Oxfam Canadian Cooperative Association (SEND-GHANA, 2008).
Ghana’s educational growth profile began in 1952, with the introduction of tuition-free primary and intermediate school education. The Education Act of 1961 made primary education compulsory, making it a crime for a parent to fail to take a kid to school, punishable by a fine. The increased enrollments as a result of these initiatives at the fundamental level persisted until the mid-1970s (Oduro, 2000). The Ghana Basic Education Sector Improvement Project (1996-2002) was supported by the “Free, Compulsory Basic Education Programme” (FCUBE), which was established in 1996, with direct District Assembly participation in cost sharing (World Bank 2002). Other sources of funding were Capitation Grants, District Assemblies Common Fund, and the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFUND), which aims to make education available to all Ghanaians (Oduro, 2000).
Despite the government’s concerted efforts, the problem of low school achievement persists, particularly in Ghana’s impoverished rural areas. The Ghanaian government approved the Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) idea in October 2005, as part of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD Comprehensives) African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) Pillar III. Under this agreement, Ghana established the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) in an attempt to address poor school achievement and poverty via community engagement. Every school day, children in kindergartens and primary schools would be provided one hot, sufficient, and healthy lunch cooked from locally farmed commodities (Afoakwa & Chiwona-Karltun, 2007).
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The program’s pilot phase (2006-2010) has concluded. To address the issue of how the program is influencing the recipient communities, it is only reasonable to analyze its impact at this point.
To fulfill the program objectives, the GSFP policy suggested that each kid get a lunch made from items acquired from the recipient community on each school day. The Savelugu-Nanton District is in Ghana’s Northern Region, where poverty has persisted due to the district’s historical background, geographical position, and traditional farming techniques. Allowing local engagement in this initiative through growing foods for school meals should have a big influence on the community. A research in this area is necessary to produce empirical data that supports the link between this idea of school feeding and its predicted objectives, which include increased school attainment and poverty reduction. As a result, the true impact of the program in the Savelugu-Nanton District must be assessed in order to influence the program’s evaluation for sustainability.
OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The primary aim of this study is to assess the impact of Ghana school feeding programme on poverty reduction and education, Below are the specific objectives;
1. Examine the effectiveness of the implementation process of the GSFP.
2. Examine how the implementation of the GSFP has influenced poverty reduction in the beneficiary district
3. Make recommendations for the improvement of the programme.
The following objectives guide this study;
1. How effective is the implementation process of the GSFP?
2. How has the implementation of the GSFP influenced poverty reduction through the production and purchase of foodstuffs in the beneficiary areas?
3. What strategies may be put forward to improve the programme?
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study’s goal was to look at the influence of the GSFP on basic education and poverty reduction in the Savelugu-Nanton district of Ghana’s Northern Region.
Poverty has a long history in the Savelugu-Nanton area of Ghana’s Northern Region, which is exacerbated by its physical position and people’s cultural traditions. Improving education with a long-term impact on literacy rates through a program that encourages community engagement in poverty reduction must have a broader systemic impact on society. This study’s results may provide policymakers and implementers with empirical facts to guide future policy development for the sustainability and promotion of poverty reduction among Ghana’s rural poor. The study may assist community members in determining the value or otherwise of the program, act as a reference for future comparable studies in other districts, and contribute to the body of knowledge in the subject area.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The research concentrated on the GSFP’s implementation structures, from the top of its organizational hierarchy to the recipient population. The national secretariat and donor institutions in Accra, the regional secretariat in Tamale, the District Implementation Committee, and the beneficiary communities were among them. The intended audience included all officials in charge of these institutions, as well as students from beneficiary schools and people of the surrounding community. The study covers the whole duration of the school feeding program’s piloting, from the 2006/2007 academic year through the time of the study in April 2011.
Due to time and resource restrictions, the Northern Region, one of Ghana’s three impoverished areas, was chosen as the research location, with the Savelugu-Nanton district as the focal point. The Savelugu-Nanton District was chosen because it has primarily rural cropping villages and is recognized as one of the region’s rural poverty districts. Since the trial phase that this research was designed to evaluate, two of the district’s schools have been GSFP recipients. The district’s closeness to the regional capital, Tamale, was an extra bonus.
The research first concentrated on the mechanisms for implementing the GSFP policy from the ministry where it was developed to the operational levels in the recipient community. It next looked for evidence of the influence of the GSFP on schooling by analyzing schooling data. Finally, an evaluation of how the GSFP implementation has caused changes in poverty levels in the community through the production and sale of commodities for the program was conducted.
Beneficiaries of the initiative were disadvantaged communities and schools with low learning metrics. Because each community had only one school, the selection procedure used by the program administrators connected the villages to schools. Beneficiary communities were formed in areas where beneficiary schools were located. The groups relate to the independent variable; the beneficiary (‘schools with’) and non-beneficial (‘schools without’) schools. Control schools are the name given to the latter category. The continuous variable, class attendance data, is the dependent variable.
LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
This study was limited to the Savelugu-Nanton District in Ghana, therefore, the results of the findings are applicable to this district. The resaerhcher also faced an unwillingness from the respondents to provide certain information which caused a delay in the completion of the project.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
1. EDUCATION: the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university.
2. POVERTY REDUCTION: Poverty reduction, poverty relief, or poverty alleviation, is a set of measures, both economic and humanitarian, that are intended to permanently lift people out of poverty.