Funding hamper feeding programme in public schools

Pupils queueing for porridge at Kashani Primary School. [Gideon Maundu, Standard]

Public schools in informal settlements in Naivasha are now appealing for food and general support from flower farms and hoteliers so as to keep hundreds of learners in class.

The harsh economic times coupled with drought have crippled the free feeding programme in schools. 

Schools have also called on the county government and the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) to increase bursary allocation, terming the current figure of Sh3,000 as a drop in the ocean.

At Mirera High School, the biggest public school in Naivasha with over 1,600 students, there are fears that learners from the nearby Karagita slums could miss out on lunch.

According to the chairperson of the Parents Association (PTA) Naomi Githua, the school requires 600 bags of maize per term but parents, majority of whom are flower farms workers, could afford 200 bags only.

She noted that the free-feeding school programme had kept many of the students from the informal settlement in class, saying the programme ought to be supported.

“Over 80 percent of parents from this school work in the flower farms and we are calling on Central Organisation of Trade Union (Cotu) to seek better salaries for the workers and also support from the flower farms,” said Githua.

Speaking after receiving Sh593,000 bursary disbursement from the county government of Nakuru, Githua said the school had a debt of over Sh7 million incurred through food for the students.

“We are grateful for the support from the county government and we appeal to other well-wishers to chip in and keep these students in class by providing food,” she appealed.

During the disbursement of the bursaries, Hellsgate MCA Virginia Wamaitha confessed that provision of lunch in schools had kept learners in class as many parents could not afford two meals per day.

She admitted that the bursary given out was a drop in the ocean as most of the flower farms workers were earning an average Sh7,000 per month, making it hard for them to pay school fees for their children.

“Due to the rising debt, it’s becoming hard to buy food for the students who come from Karagita slums and the county shall seek ways of supporting the school,” she said.

The school Board of Management Chairman Jeremiah Thuo cited drought and harsh economic times as main challenges in the school.

“We do not charge any school fees here and the funds we get from bursary and parents are for feeding the students as this is one way of keeping them in class,” he said.