Scrap ‘Problematic’ Buffer Stock Company From Food Supply To Schools

The Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS) has rubbished the role of the Buffer Stock Company Limited in the supply of food to senior high schools and called for its immediate scrapping to restore sanity.

CHASS, in a communique issued at the end of its 60th annual conference celebration, held in Koforidua in the Eastern Region, from the 9th to 15th of October 2022, described the Buffer Stock Company’s role as “problematic in the smooth implementation of FSHS policy.”

Details of the document,intercepted by The Anchor, argued that, all the attendant problems could be solved if the Free SHS Secretariat re-channels these funds directly to the schools to perform that role.

“The role of National Buffer Stock Company in the supply of food to schools in itself is problematic in the smooth implementation of the FSHS policy. CHASS recommends therefore that, the Buffer Stock system, considering all the attendant problems associated with its role in the supply of food to schools must be scrapped immediately and FSHS Secretariat should re-channel those funds directly to the schools to perform those roles,” the group said.

The communique was signed by Baro Primus, the Assistant National Secretary on behalf of National Secretary and attested to by the president, Alhaj Yakub Ahmad Bin Abubakar.

CHASS believes, “This would reduce the extra stress of Heads struggling to even appeal to suppliers to supply food on behalf of the Buffer Stock Company, looking for non-existent funds to travel over various distances to cart food to our schools, dealing with under supplies and underweight supplies, over invoicing, and even intimidation by some suppliers. Mention must be made of the fact that, there are times some schools are denied of their food items when the Heads insist on the right thing.”

For months, senior high schools across the country have been struggling to secure food supplies from government through the Buffer Stock Company.

The situation, which affected several schools, including prominent ones in the Central, Volta, Greater Accra and Eastern regions, led to some heads threatening to shut down schools.

In some cases, schools had to improvise, whereas groups, such as the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and Old Students Association, were called upon to intervene.

Allegedly, some of the students went as far as breaking into chop boxes of their mates for food.

The latest school to decry the absence of food last week was the Wa Senior High School, where there was allegation that students were being fed with gari or rice without its accompaniment, like stew.

But in the wake of these happenings, CHASS said if the current arrangement where emergency food supplies is now the order of the day, some pressing concerns need to be looked at and resolved.

The concerned heads demanded that Buffer Stock desists from requesting schools to travel from long distances for food items, as that arrangement puts them in a very difficult situation.

“In the current arrangement where emergency food supplies is now the order of the day, the following issues must be flagged, noted and heeded to;Quantities of emergency items should always be made available to Heads.

“Buffer Stock should desist with immediate effect from requesting schools to travel various distances for food items. It is having a serious toll on our already meagre resources, some schools don’t even have vehicles to go and cart these items. Same for even some bulk supplies,” the communique strongly stated.

The Conference said that, despite prices of food skyrocketing this year especially, fee for perishables which has stood for GHc1.56 for three years, has not been reviewed upwards.

It noted that this is notwithstanding the fact that the Ministry of Education and the Secretariat have been reviewing the prices of mercantile items upwards to the Buffer Stock Company.

Though the Conference says it has appealed to them to do same for perishable fees, “nothing has been done in that respect, though the country has experienced soaring prices of food items and perishables in recent times.”

CHASS calls on the MOE to do the needful through an engagement with all relevant bodies immediately, as perishable fee paid to schools is no more sustainable.

“GES should immediately make available to schools the revised quantities of food for schools to avoid the usual confrontations between Heads and their matrons.

“CHASS wants to reiterate and restate its request to the MOE and GES to always ensure the timeous and adequate releases of funds; not only the money for perishables but also the money for recurrent expenditure to schools to enable them, not just to function, but to function effectively. It must be noted that the problems in our schools are not problems that should wait.”

According to CHASS, “the recurrent component of the fees caters for the very key areas of managing the school, such as National Science and Maths Competition, sports and culture, sanitation, library, ICT,stationery, minor repairs, vehicle maintenance, etc. Clearly the non-release of these monies for over the past year has seriously constrained the ability of Heads to manage the schools.”

It further said, “CHASS again calls on government to seriously consider the timely and adequate release of funds to Day Schools. Their only source of government funding is only one source i.e. the money for recurrent expenditure and any delay in their releases renders them very incapable of moving on. Indeed, Heads of Day Schools see their situation as punishment, compared to their counterparts in the Boarding Schools.”

It also demanded that government takes immediate steps to pay all arrears owed with regard to money for perishables and recurrent fees to schools.

More To Come…

 Source: Anchorghana

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