New feeding programme saves schools in Kajiado amid government funding uncertainty

Leaners at Mutunkei Primary School, in Kitengela Kajiado queue for food during lunch hour. [Peterson Githaiga, Standard]

As the government wavers in its commitment to support feeding programmes in primary schools, it's a reprieve to parents of a Kajiado school following the recent introduction of a new feeding programme courtesy of a non-governmental organisation.

 According to Mr Peter Kamau, a volunteer Director of ''Every Child Counts'' organisation, the programme includes a whole meal breakfast served at 10 o’clock consisting of porridge and egg, and a balanced lunch consisting of succotash meal, rice, beans & green gram stew and a fruit spread throughout the week respectively.

 Reports indicate that the National Treasury has withdrawn funding for these programmes in the coming financial year starting July 2024.

 Mutunkei Primary School, located near Kitengela in Kajiado County, has children mainly from poor backgrounds. The school faced significant challenges with low enrolment rates.

 Most parents in the school are herders from the Maasai community, while others work in neighbouring flower farms and barely make a living out of these menial casual jobs.

 The primary reason for low enrolment rates was the lack of adequate nutrition among the children, which impacted their ability to attend school regularly and perform well academically.

 After recognising this critical issue, a non-governmental organisation has now introduced a comprehensive school feeding programme that will provide daily nutritious meals to the pupils.

 ''The programme will support more than 180 pupils and is designed to reduce hunger, improve concentration, and boost overall academic performance,'' said Kamau.

 Since the introduction of the feeding programme, Mutunkei Primary School has witnessed a remarkable increase in student enrolment and retention.

 ''Children who previously struggled to attend school due to a lack of food at home are now motivated to come to school regularly; attendance rates have significantly improved and the overall health and wellbeing of the students have shown noticeable enhancement,'' he added.

 The Director told The Standard that, besides addressing immediate nutritional needs, the feeding programme has fostered a sense of community and hope among the students and their families. It has provided a safety net for vulnerable children, ensuring they have access to at least two nutritious meals each school day.

 In an interview, Mzee Josphat Ole Naini, who is a parent at the school, says the newly introduced programme is God-sent since many of the school pupils had started withdrawing from school.

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