Over 78,000 early childhood education learners in West Pokot County will benefit from a Sh12 million school feeding programme introduced by the county government.
At the same time the county government has rolled out a Sh100 million massive ECD infrastructural facelift to improve the learning environment through construction of classrooms, toilets and recruitment of additional teachers.
Speaking at the county headquarters in Kapenguria town during the launch of the programme Wednesday, the Governor John Lonyangapuo said the programme targets 1, 032 ECDE centres in the area.
He said the feeding programme aims at reducing malnutrition rate and boost enrolment in schools.
Lonyangapuo pointed out that early childhood education forms an integral part in providing solid foundation for children in their onset years of education.
He cited the enriched porridge which will motivate parents to take their children to school.
He said every child will be served with a cup of porridge in the morning and after classes every day pointing out that the county was known to have high malnutrition and birth rate in the country.
The roll out of the programme aims at addressing challenges of children not attending classes because of hunger.
“The porridge meal is blended with highly nutritious ingredients to boost nutrition levels among pupils. The porridge comprises of corn, soya beans, sugar and fortifiers (vitamins and minerals),” he said.
A study conducted by the Kenya demographic and health survey KDHS in 2014 revealed that Malnutrition rate in the county stands at 46 percent as many children suffered from chronic malnutrition because of poor feeding over food insecurity.
He warned parents who will not take their children to school that his government will take stern measures against them saying they are violating the constitution because every child above five years deserves education.
“We will do house to house mobilisation to make sure all children are enrolled in ECDE centres. We have employed enough teachers and are planning to build model classes for our children.
Parents will not have excuse for not taking their children to school. Basic education is a must in our constitution,” he said.
He cautioned ECD teachers against using the flour porridge for personal gain adding that they will be accountable if any child will not be served with a cup of porridge.
“We want to build two model classrooms in every ECD centre for our children and 839 teachers have been employed and more than 200 teachers will be added at the end of this financial year,” he added.
County executive Committee member for education Christine Apokoreng said ECD enrolment had been low in the county saying most of the parents did not value early childhood education.
“The retention has been low because parents migrate with their children looking for pasture for their livestock. Many of the pupils don’t attend classes because their parents engage them in grazing livestock,” she added.
The ECDs also received 2064 textbooks from Kenya institute of curriculum development that will be used by teachers as teaching aids.
By John Saina