Empty Plates: JoyNews documentary highlights shortage of foods, meal quantity at SHSs

JoyNews sources have confirmed an acute shortage of food items in many Senior High Schools (SHS) across the country.

For months, parents, teachers, and stakeholders have raised concerns about the alleged shortcomings of the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy, specifically regarding the provision of three daily hot meals to SHS students free of charge.

After over seven years of policy implementation, President Akufo-Addo during the 2024 State of the Nation Address in Parliament on Tuesday, February 27, emphasised the transformative impact of the Free SHS policy.

He called for an end to arguments against the policy, stating that its success should be acknowledged, and efforts should focus on improving it.

“Mr Speaker, Free SHS might be labelled by its detractors as a mere political slogan that must be demonised, but it is, in fact, a transformative programme that has broken myths and liberated minds.

“I am proud that the NPP government, under my leadership, has been able to bring this transformative policy into our education system. Mr Speaker, I believe the success of the Free SHS has answered its critics and the arguments about it should cease, and we should simply concentrate on finding ways to improve it.”

However, fresh details uncovered by JoyNews suggest serious defects that could undermine the effective implementation of the Free SHS policy.

The investigative documentary, “Empty Plates,” produced by investigative journalist Kwetey Nartey, presents evidence of an acute shortage of food items in many senior high schools nationwide.

JoyNews’ Channel Manager, Kwaku Owusu Peprah, explained that the decision to commission an independent inquiry into the quantity of food served to the students and create the documentary was driven by public interest journalism.

He said that the Joy Newsroom had received complaints from parents and individuals about the quantity of food available to students.

“We were not going to take that at face value, so we sent people into the schools to verify, and what we verified and saw is what we have put out. This is just a promo, and we were moved by the core principles of journalism, which is to do what is in the interest of the public,” he stated.

Addressing the comprehensive scope of the investigation and its accurate depiction of the acute shortage of food in senior high schools nationwide, Mr Peprah said that the team visited two schools and conducted thorough investigations.

“These are schools from the Northern part of the country to Oti region to Ashanti region – we covered about 10 regions in this documentary and per every research sample size for a country that has 16 regions, this is a good work,” he said.

Speaking on what motivated the work at JoyNews and if there was any political affiliation to it, the Channel Manager said “We do journalism, we don’t do politics.

“Let’s leave politics to the politicians and let them decorate it how they want, but we have just put pictures and sounds to the things that affect all of us,” emphasising that the intention was to present information that affects everyone, devoid of political biases.

Mr Peprah added that the newsroom will publish the full documentary to allow for informed responses from the public.

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Source: myjoyonline.com