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Feeding Program boosts enrolment in Busia

Since the roll-out of the school feeding program by the county government of Busia, class

enrollment for Early Child Development Education (ECDE) has increased by 25% with

parents now opting to take underage to school to enjoy a meal.

Before the interception of the program, the regular class enrolment stood at 40,000 across 460 public ECDE learning institutions in the county and the number has now risen to over 53,000 within one month since the program was launched.

Education stakeholders in various institutions who spoke to KNA while on spot-check have praised the program as they committed their support toward the program.

Peter Iganga the head teacher at Mujuru primary school applauded the county government for the intervention owing to the high poverty index in the county had pushed most pupils to stay away from class as they could not withstand staying in class for 6 hours on an empty stomach.

“This program has helped to improve learner’s retention rate and enrollment giving

teachers an easy task when it comes to syllabus coverage,” Iganga noted.

“The feeding program doubled the class attendance here at school with learners expressing a lot of enthusiasm and positivity in their school work,” he added.

His sentiments were echoed by Antony Ogutu the school head Igero Primary School who noted that the level of absenteeism has greatly dropped which is a positive gesture on learners’ performance in class.

“ECDE learners are very emotional and not easy to handle, but since the programme was launched by the governor one month ago, we have experienced happy class interaction with most learners feeling happy during school days as opposed to when they are going back at home,” Ogutu said.

However, they have implored the county government of Busia to supply enough beans that cover the whole term for the smooth running of the programme.

The health and nutrition of school-age children (5-9 years of age; referred to as middle childhood) receive less attention than that of younger children or adolescents. However, this life stage is critical for learning and intellectual development as well as for shaping attitudes, behaviours, and practices. An integrated package of essential health and nutrition services implemented through schools is a key investment in better futures for children and their communities

The ECDE teachers who spoke to the press commended the program noting that it has given them an easy time to focus on molding pupils in their early development for their brighter days ahead in school.

“Dealing with a happy lot of learners gives you joy as a teacher, it reduces a lot of time we waste on stress management of pupils before we embark on class session, we can project better performance among our learners should the program continue,” said Ann Wangeci, ECDE teacher at Mujuru.

Janet Namale another ECDE teacher at Burumba said with reduced levels of absenteeism, teachers are now able to bond with learners giving them enough time to understand the abilities of different learners as recommended by CBC.

“When teachers get enough time to bond with learners, they understand their abilities and weaknesses earlier making it easy for them to handle them appropriately,” said Madam Namale.

Speaking during the launch of the school feeding programme, Busia Governor, Dr.Paul Otuoma stated the move is to fight stunted growth among young children because of malnutrition.

“This feeding program aims at addressing stunted growth among children in Busia which stands at 15% according to UNICEF report of 2023,” Governor Otuma said.

“With a population of over 50,000 learners, this program aims at improving nutrition level among school-going children, boosting the enrollment level across all schools,” the governor emphasized.

Parents were urged by both the county and school administrations to embrace the programs for their success.

The county government of Busia has invested 33 million in the school feeding program.

By Absalom Namwalo

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