Prof. Jacob Thuranira Kaimenyi Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Education: Ensure Pre&Primary school students in needy areas have access to a school meal
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Allow me to share my story from Taita Taveta where I recently visited and saw what hunger is and what it can do to a community. More so I saw it as a responsibility to highlight the issue so that the government or the necessary institutions in the area can do something about it.
The school is Mzwanenyi Primary a Public School in the Taita Taveta Area very dry part of the country. In the last rains the school's roof was blown away, the Government and District Education Commissioner office didn't do much about it. The area is prone to Human & wildlife conflict. It so happens that at one time a stray buffalo got to the school and none of the students could leave their classes. The Kenya Wildlife Service luckily came to their aid and rescue.
On arriving at the school and chasing the buffalo away, they saw the bad state of affairs and decided to help a little bit and build one block of classes whose roof had been blown off by the tough rains. Along that block they also built the headteachers office who at the time was sitting in a tent makeshift office.
Their problems didn't end there as they were asked to write for assistance from the ministry of education. They took pictures and sent proposals but nothing has come forth to date. In this area the greatest problem is food and children rely on the school feeding programme. Most of them only get one meal a day which is at the school.
On our arrival at the school, we found the headteacher very distraught after she had been presented with a case of a father of 6 who had chased his wife and children outside their house in the cold of the night the previous day. She proceeded to call the child-welfare on the father and he was arrested. We followed up on the issues in the school only to realize that the lack of food was causing more problems in the area than we had thought possible. Fainting in class is a norm in this school and the headteacher can only do us much.
Afew years ago the World Food Programme was running the school feeding programme in Public Schools that the Government requested they hand over. The feeding programme had resulted in the increase in enrollment, a stabilized school attendance and a high population had a chance to complete primary education. At the moment the area is down at the poverty level scale. This school feeding programme can empower the younger generation coming up.The programme run only for a few years and then it stopped in most schools. No one has a clear explanation of what happened.
As a result the following has been the outcome:
- Many children in the area have been orphaned and live with their grandparents
- Their Grandparents cannot fend for them and therefore they will be required at one time or another to fend for themselves
- Therefore a high prevalense of HIV and AIDS rising due to the need of children being required to go fend for their families. The young girls get as little as Kshs.50/- for sexual favors on the many traders who pass through the nearby towns on transit to Tanzania and Mombasa just to buy food.
The young boys drop out of school to look for any kind of work to help provide for their families too. From this perspective I see that this is how poverty will prevail in this area and we shall keep having a vicious circle for year on end if we dont make a difference.
I am not a specialist in this line, nor do I have facts on hunger in Kenya but am well aware of what the lack of rains does to most parts of this country and how such systems need to be efficient for food security in the country. I have chosen to write about this as an extreme case of poverty and hunger that we have faced in all our visits as we shouldn't turn a blind eye. I know there are also other parts of the country that are also suffereing.
The School Feeding Programme is IMPORTANT in please sustain it for the sake of the children in the schools.
A hungry child cannot learn even if he/she is given a laptop.
This is why I did the petition with Change.org, we must all be agents of change in our communities and strive for the betterment of each other. It starts with you and I standing to clear poverty.
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