Pupils who depend on school feeding programmes to remain in school risk dropping out after the government said it would cut Sh500m off the budget.
This will deal a major blow to the project just under one year since the exit of the biggest funding agency the World Food Program with the government allocating Sh1.6 billion from Sh2.1 billion allocated in this financial year.
Education ministry last week raised concern over possible collapse of the school feeding program due to deep budget cuts.
Basic education PS Belio Kipsang said the cuts will affect efforts to retains children in school arid and semi arid areas. Kipsang says the direct impact of this will be a reduction in number of pupils receiving food in target areas.
“School feeding program is so critical… those of us who come from a place where getting three meals is not a problem may not appreciate what happens to our children who are in ASAL areas,” Kipsang told the Parliament’s Education committee on Thursday.
The PS was appearing before the committee to give observations on the budget policy statement.
“When we see the net enrollment in areas such as Mandera as low as 25 per cent and one of the things that retains this kids in school, I would not mind as the accounting officer to lose resources within my budget but retain the school feeding program,” the PS said.
The school meal program targets 1.5 million school going children each day with the government setting aside Sh11 per child every day.
With the exit of WFP in June last year, the government reaffirmed capability to sustain the programme.
The program was initiated in the 1980s with the then government instituting a federally funded school meals program through a school milk program.
The milk program was aimed at increasing primary school enrollment as well as ensuring a stable market for Kenyan dairy producers.
The initiative that provided free milk to 4.3 million primary school students failed shortly after its launch due to high costs.
However, after the introduction of free primary education in 2003, the government through the Ministry of Education developed a sustainable strategy together with partners for the complete handover of the school meals program to the government in the year 2008.