In spite of the existence of free, compulsory, and universal basic education (FCUBE) in Ghana, children of the poor especially in rural areas are seldom able to proceed beyond the first few years of schooling. This situation merely reflects their disadvantaged economic circumstances. In many developing countries, formal education is the largest â€śindustryâ€ť and greatest consumer of public revenue including huge investments in education. The benefits are numerous, and directly impact poverty reduction. For example, literate farmers with at least a primary education are thought to be more productive and more responsive to new agricultural technologies than illiterate farmers, the more schooling and certificates a child can accumulate, the better his/her chances will be to escape poverty. The FCUBE programme was launched in1995.
Since then, there have been some modest improvements in national education indicators. Between 1995 and 2003 the number of primary schools increased from 12,134 (public and private) to 15,708 while the number of primary school pupils increased from 2,154,646 to 2,713,346, reflecting an improvement in the gross enrolment ratio (GER) from 75.9% in 1995 to 81.3% in 2003.
The gender parity index (GPI) also steadily increased from 0.87% in 1995 to 0.92% in 2003 at the primary level and from 0.76 to 0.87 at the JSS level. The introduction of the capitation grant (free basic schooling) in 2005/2006 school year has also boosted primary school enrollment. Still, if Ghana is to meet its commitments to the MDGs for Gender Parity and Universal Primary Education by 2015, an accelerated growth in the improvement of school enrolment, attendance and retention rates will be required. In the broad education sector, a holistic package of interventions has been identified as priorities for attaining middle income country status with a minimum per capita income of US$1000 by 2015.
The strategy begins with early childhood development where the critical foundations are laid for psycho-social, emotional, and intellectual development. Initiatives that will give the best start in life for every Ghanaian child will be pursued. This includes providing a good enabling environment in which teaching and learning can take place. Presently, the school environment is hindered by short term hunger and malnutrition which can distract children from their lessons. The school feeding programme, by providing a solution to these problems, can be a vehicle for improving the quality of teaching and learning within schools.