The Ministry of Finance has released GH¢106.69 million for the payment of the feeding grant of public senior high schools (SHSs) in the three regions of the north.
Following the release, the schools, which were supposed to reopen on May 4, will now reopen on May 23, 2017.
A statement issued by the Ministry of Finance in Accra yesterday said the amount for the payment of the feeding grant had been sent to the Registrar of Scholarships for onward transfer to the schools.
“The amount is in respect of the third term feeding grant for 137,300 students for the 2015-2016 academic year and also for 140,264 students for the first term of the 2016/2017 academic year.
“The ministry is processing the remaining claims for the 2016/2017 academic year,” it said.
Postponement of reopening
Although schools reopened for the third term on May 4, those in the Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions have remained closed because the school heads say there is no money to feed the students.
According to some of the school authorities who spoke to the Daily Graphic in Tamale yesterday, it would take about two weeks for the money to hit the accounts of the schools for them to pay the arrears owed their suppliers before they could reopen.
They said the schools owed their suppliers huge amounts of money, for which reason the suppliers were not in a position to continue supplies to them until old debts were cleared.
The release of the feeding grant by the government had, therefore, come as a huge relief to the educational authorities.
The Northern Regional Director of Education, Alhaji Mohammed Haroon, told the Daily Graphic yesterday that baring any unforeseen developments, government-assisted schools would reopen on May 23, 2017.
Alhaji Haroon explained that the process for the payment of the feeding grant to the schools was not direct, adding that the school heads had to wait for two weeks before they could pay the suppliers.
He alleged that as a result of the mounting debts on the suppliers and the pressure from the banks on them to pay their debts, “one lady died a week ago as a result of heart failure, while another man had to sell his 4×4 vehicle to pay his debts at the bank”.
“Because of such developments, the suppliers have refused to go in for more bank loans to do the supplies until the schools pay them the amounts that they owe them,” he said.
When contacted, the Northern Regional Chairman of the Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS) and the Headmaster of the Tamale SHS, Mr Wilberforce Adam, told the Daily Graphic that the release of the money to pay the arrears of two terms of the feeding grant was welcome news.
“Unless the payment processes are fast-tracked by the Scholarship Secretariat to ensure that all the schools involved get the money by the close of this week to pay suppliers, I cannot tell you when the schools will reopen,” he said
While students in SHSs in the rest of the country have been in school for more than a week now, their counterparts in the three regions of the north are still at home as a result of their feeding grant being in arrears for three-and-a-half terms.
The delay in the release of the feeding grant to schools in the three regions of the north has been a perennial problem.