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KEPSHA Warns Drought May Affect National Examination Candidates

The Kenya Primary School Heads Association (KEPSHA) has called on the government to develop measures to avert the looming crisis in schools that will be caused by the ongoing drought.

In their view, this will help to ensure that candidates dropping out of school due to hunger are able to come back in good time and prepare adequately for their national examinations.

According to the KEPSHA Chairperson and headteacher to Donholm Primary School Johnson Nzioka, it will be difficult for candidates who dropped out of school due to hunger to return to school if food will not be provided in their schools to attract them.

Nzioka also implored the National Assembly to treat the motion on the school feeding programme with urgency saying that it will improve retention rates of learners in schools, especially in primary schools.

“I hope Parliament will come up with a small mitigation measure to ensure that the examinations run smoothly,” said Nzioka.

He said that schools in arid zones like North Eastern are almost empty and now that people understand the effects of drought in that area, action should be taken faster as well as prioritizing the matter.

In his view, the government should take on the role of feeding the children in public primary schools to ensure that the 100 per cent transition policy and retention rates are realized.

He said that the school feeding programme that is being carried out by County Governments only targets children in Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) centres.

High numbers of absenteeism have been recorded in Central and Northern Kenya areas with learners seeking to be transferred to institutions with feeding programmes.

Many schools in Laikipia, Meru and Isiolo counties which have not received food have reported mass dropouts, with some only being able to attend lessons in the morning hours.

The Motion titled School Feeding Policy is being moved by the Kakamega County MP Else Muhanda was introduced in Parliament on the 25th of October 2022.

Muhanda wants the Ministry of Education (MoE) through the State Department of Early Learning and Basic Education to develop and sustain a school feeding policy to cover learners in both primary and secondary schools.

“This House, therefore, resolves that the Ministry of Education (MoE), through the State Department immediately develops a school feeding policy to cover basic education pupils and sustain the programme in order to ensure that children are in schools for effective learning and to improve their well-being,” read the National Assembly’s Order Paper of October 25, 2022.

Muhanda said that school meals have many benefits like increased school enrolment and attendance as well as a significant contribution to hunger reduction and nutrition improvement.

She also showed concern that feeding is not being supported by a clear policy and budgetary framework and does not support pupils in primary and secondary schools.

Even though the government assumed full funding for the programme in October 2018, the World Food Programme (WFP) is still providing capacity development support for both national and county governments to strengthen its implementation.

School meals have been a joint responsibility of the WFP and the MoE since 1980.

School meals target 2.5 Million learners in primary schools in 66 sub-counties in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) and informal urban settlements.

Kenya launched a homegrown school meals programme in 2009 in a bid to feed more than half a million children. In the programme, the National Treasury provides funds to schools to buy food from local markets. This has promoted the local economies and production in agriculture as well as boosted school attendance.

The programme is set to receive a boost when the government fulfils its promise of raising the number of beneficiaries to four million. A further 8 million will also benefit through the provision of more funds to county governments.

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