Several structures demarcated as kitchens for caterers under the school feeding programme are in a deplorable and unclean state in several schools in the New Juaben Municipality of the Eastern Region.
Some of the caterers operating in those deplorable structures have had to battle with snakes and other reptiles that find their way into the makeshift kitchens.
Some parents have raised concerns about the state of the kitchen, which has forced some of them to withdraw their wards from the schools.
This was confirmed when Citi News visited some basic schools in the New Juaben Municipality to assess the state of the kitchens, which poses a threat to the life and health of beneficiaries of the school feeding programme.
The first school Citi News visited was the Oyoko Roman Catholic School at Oyoko, near the Oyoko Catholic Church. The kitchen for the school feeding programme is sited right on the school’s compound; in between the primary school and the JHS blocks.
A stagnant drain lies right behind the kitchen, serving as a breeding ground for flies and other insects. The wooden structure which serves as kitchen for some 300 pupils, floods and becomes inaccessible during the rainy season.
As if this isn’t enough, some teachers revealed to Citi News how the caterers engage some of the pupils in the kitchen, sending them on errands even during contact hours.
“We see the kids carrying water and other items going about and when you ask them where they are heading to, they say the caterers have sent them so we informed our headmaster who then told the caterers to put a stop to that” Citi News then visited the Nana Oware Agyapong MA at Nyamekrom, also in the New Juaben Municipality where the caterers cook from a dilapidated wooden structure, with holes in the roofing sheets.
The assembly member of Nyamekrom Peter Otukunor, explained how several attempts made to the Municipal Assembly to fix the problem have proved futile.
“Last year (2017), we managed to get the Municipal Chief Executive to come and inspect this structure, he promised to work on it for us but nothing was done about it, and the new MCE has also been here to see for herself the condition on the ground, and still the situation is the same. I will continue to push till I get a positive response from them.”
This situation according to the headmaster of the school, Okyere Boateng Samuel, has affected enrollment as parents who are more concerned about the health and safety of their wards have withdrawn them from the school.
“The problem we have here is with our kitchen, it is in a bad state and because of that parents have withdrawn their wards to other schools just because they are not comfortable with the kitchen structure where food will be prepared and served to their kids.”
Startled by these worrying revelations, Citi News went ahead to find out the situation from other schools in the Municipality .
Others schools visited, namely Nyamekrom, Mpayem LA, Asokore Methodist, Apempoa Islamic school, and AME Zion had similar challenges.
It is believed that many more schools across the entire Eastern Region, particularly in the rural areas, may be facing the same challenge.