Taita-Taveta County Government has launched a Sh 12.5 million school-feeding program for over 11,000 learners in Early Childhood Development Centers (ECDEs) across the region to offer nutritional support for children in the targeted institutions.
The feeding program is also intended to cushion learners from poor families against malnutrition as a spillover adverse effect of Covid-19.
Speaking in Mwatate on Monday during the launch of the program, Governor Granton Samboja said all learners in public ECDEs will benefit from the project. He added that the program was well structured but was disrupted by closure of schools after the outbreak of Covid-19.
The governor added that the county was trying to alleviate the economic burden of feeding young learners from parents when they were in school.
“This program is meant to bolster the nutritional needs of our children. It is also meant to cushion parents against the costs of food for learners while at school,” he said.
Taita-Taveta County has 315 ECDE centers with 11, 891 learners. The feeding program will cover the sub-counties of Mwatate, Voi, Taveta and Wundanyi.
Mr. Paul Waweru, the chair of the Educational Committee in the County Assembly, said the program was timely and would run the entire duration of the financial year. He also added that the food supplies were well coordinated with the local suppliers also getting a share to provide needed food.
He also asked the governor to order a salary increment for the ECDE teachers to motivate them to work harder. “This is a reprieve for learners and their parents. They can now study in school at peace,” he said.
The County Executive Committee Member (CECM) for Education Ms. Defence Manga hailed the program and pointed out the correlation between good nutrition and good educational performance.
She appealed to the governor to extend the ECDE feeding program to special schools to accommodate learners with special needs.
“The program can also be a blessing to the learners in our special schools and they are not too many,” she said.
The County has allocated Sh 12.57 million in 2021/22 financial year towards supporting the school feeding program.
By Wagema Mwangi