Porridge initiative by MCA keeps young learners in school

According to Naomi Mbodze Muye, the teacher in charge of ECDE in the ward, there are at least 2,287 pupils in 50 ECDE centres and the number is increasing after the introduction of the porridge programme. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

Lack of food is the main contributor to low school enrollment among learners from poor backgrounds.

The situation however varies from region to region and culture but it is relevant in early education.

In Ganze sub-County, Kilifi County, the drought situation has made matters worse with more learners in Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) centers keeping away from school due to hunger.

However, there is a reprieve for learners from Ganze ward after the MCA Benson Ngirani started providing porridge in schools.

According to Naomi Mbodze Muye, the teacher in charge of ECDE in the ward, there are at least 2,287 pupils in 50 ECDE centres and the number is increasing after the introduction of the porridge programme.

"There is a porridge project that was started by our MCA in 2021 and it benefits 1,650 pupils in 41 ECDE centres. He started with ten schools before expanding to the current 41," she said.

She added that Ganze ward has four locations where 18 schools in Ganze, 12 in Sokoke, eight in Dingiria and 3 in Dungicha receive porridge flour every two weeks. "Initially we had a school feeding programme where parents contributed Sh20 but it failed after most parents failed to pay so Karisa started the porridge programme," Naomi said.

The flour is distributed according to the enrolment in the various ECDE centres to ensure equity and there has been seamless supply with no hitches reported.

Miriam Neema, an ECDE teacher at Mabirikani Primary School said that the enrolment in her school was dropping but with the introduction of porridge, it picked up.

Mwalimu Rashid of Mabirikani said the programme should be extended to learners in grades 1 and 2.

Janet Mwaringa, an ECDE teacher at Petanguo Primary School also said that the population of young learners was rising and the programme needs to be expanded.

Parents too are happy. They say they no longer need to persuade their children to attend school. "We had a problem with our children because they were refusing to attend school but now they wake up very early knowing that they will get porridge in school," said Baraka Charo, a parent at Petanguo Primary School whose headteacher says the population at ECDE section has increased.