Senators Pass bill For re-introduction Of school milk
The Senate assembly has unanimously passed a bill that proposes the supply of free milk to school children.
In what signifies the return of the famous Maziwa Ya Nyayo that was introduced by former President Daniel Moi, senators maintained that the milk will improve nutrition.
While debating the bill on the floor of the House on Thursday, the senators said the programme will enhance enrolment.
“Thinking about reintroducing milk in the schools does not only build into the nutritional value of children but it also ensures that local businesses can thrive,” Narok Senator Ledama Olekina said.
He urged the Ministry of Education to partner with local farmers to ensure the supply is sustainable and at the same time empower the local farmers economically.
Nominated Senator Naomi Shiyonga said the bill comes at a time when the government has reduced funding for the school feeding programme.
It also comes at a time when the famous donor, World Food Programme, has suspended the school feeding programme, she added.
“We need to realise that by supporting this bill and introducing milk in our schools, we will not only increase enrolment of children to schools but also increase the literacy levels on a gender basis. We will also benefit in terms of equity of health nutrition,” she said.
WFP cut the school feeding programme by Sh500 million budget in what the ministry warned would make it harder to retain children in schools in arid and semi-arid areas.
With the endorsement of the bill, the proposed law now awaits the approval of the National Assembly and the eventual assent by the President to make it law.
The new milk bill says distribution would be handled by county directors of education.
“School milk programmes not only positively contribute to the growth of the dairy sector, but they also improve nutrition and increase school attendance,” the bill says.
The Maziwa ya Nyayo programme introduced by Moi was cancelled after it proved too costly and unsustainable for successive governments.
Kwamboka said school health and nutrition interventions have been recognised as critical in meeting the Millennium Development Goals of universal basic education and gender equality in education access.
“There is nothing that matters to a child more than their nutrition. Away from just talking about it and saying that we care, something needs to be done to demonstrate that duty of care,” Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua said.
Kwamboka argued in the bill that schools taking part in the programme provide a guaranteed market for milk for smallholder farmers who produce 80 per cent of Kenya’s milk.
She says the United Kingdom’s school feeding programme was the first component of welfare reform in 1906.
In Brazil, the school feeding progamme is prioritised in the Zero Hunger Strategy to address hunger and ensure the human right to adequate food for all.
“School health and nutrition programmes, particularly when embedded within broader child development strategies, are an integral part of the long-term development of a child,” the Bill reads.