A PROGRAMME initiated by the Bonsaaso Millennium Villages Project (MVP) in the Amansie West District of the Ashanti Region in 2007, to provide free meals for children in public primary schools in the project’s catchment area is currently operating in 12 out of the 22 basic schools in the area.
In all 3,248 pupils in the Bonsaaso cluster of schools are covered by the programme and the authorities hope to extend it to other schools in 2010.
The MVP, which is being piloted in Ghana at Bonsaaso in Amansie West, hope to use the initiative dubbed “the school meals programme” to support communities and schools to provide nutritious meals for pupils on sustainable basis as a way of improving their health, and boosting enrolment and retention in schools.
Mr Samuel A. Afram, Cluster Manager/Team Leader of the Bonsaaso MVP, told the Daily Graphic at Manso Nkwanta that at the start of the programme, none of the 22 basic schools in the area was benefiting from the Ghana government supported School Feeding Programme as such the new programme came as a big relief to the people.
The MVP is a community-driven poverty reduction project aimed at establishing a foundation of evidence that poor rural economies in developing countries could be on a path towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) using science-based, proven and practical interventions over a five-year time frame.
The project being piloted in Ghana at Bonsaaso, and other villages in some African countries, sought to empower individual millennium villages to achieve the MDGs through the implementation of comprehensive, community-based, low-cost integrated development strategies.
Lead partners of the MVP are the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Millennium Promise; a non-governmental organisation and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Mr Afram said to encourage more community ownership of the programme, participating communities made contributions in kind towards the construction of kitchens.
Between May 2007 and March 2008, he said the school meals programme in three schools increased enrolment by about 40 per cent, and some classes in the kindergarten and lower primary were doubled.
The Cluster Manager said the MVP had also contributed to increased teacher population in the area by supporting the training of 17 teachers.
Scholarships had also been awarded to about 60 needy brilliant schoolchildren to enable them continue with their education, he noted.
He urged the people in the area to continue to support the MVP to enable it to achieve more successes for the people.
Mr Afram said to ensure the improvement of the health of the people in the area, the project had also undertaken a number of interventions in the health sector.
This include the construction of four health facilities and renovation of two existing ones, as well as the free enrolment of people in the National Health Insurance Scheme.