A systematic review of the impact of Ghana’s school feeding programme on educational and nutritional outcomes
The Ghana School Feeding Programme (SFP) was introduced in 2005 to improve educational and health outcomes. Due to the role the intervention has played in meeting its objectives, the review was conceived to assess the impact of the intervention on anthropometric, behavioural, cognitive, and health and nutritional outcomes. A systematic review search for non-experimental and quasi-experimental studies was conducted on different databases, websites and reference lists of selected studies. Both quantitative and qualitative studies were included in the review. Sixteen studies met the inclusion criteria and they report on the role of Ghanaian’s school feeding programme as an intervention that the government is using to improve educational and health outcomes of beneficiaries. Different evaluation methods were used to assess the impact of SFP, six studies used post study design, only one study adopted Difference-in-Differences (DID) technique, five studies used a pre-post study, two studies embraced a cross-sectional study and one study adopted comparative analysis. Outcomes measured by the studies include enrolment, attendance, retention and academic performance. Others are wasting, thinness and stunting. Supporting evidence shows that the school feeding programme improved educational and health outcomes. However, the evidence of food for education on cognitive development was weak. Food for education is a social safety net that stakeholders in developing countries are using to encourage pupil enrolment, attendance and the improvement of academic performance. While the intervention played a pivotal role in these regards, there were other challenges that affected the intervention in achieving its main objective.
Keywords: attendance, enrolment, Ghana, retention