Some 17,000 pupils in ECDE centres in Nairobi will benefit from supply of free milk under a programme unveiled by the county government and Brookside Dairy on Friday.
The programme, which has been rolled out in all the 225 primary schools in the city, will see each pupil receive a packet of milk twice a week.
Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko said this was part of efforts to promote healthy lifestyles and diet for effective learning of pupils in formative years of primary school.
Sonko and Brookside chief operating officer Faiz Taib launched the free milk supply at Martin Luther primary school in Makadara.
The governor said that the programme would lead to better pupil retention levels for the city’s early childhood learning centres.
He said that the move would better the nutrition and health of students in pre-primary schools in the city.
"I am aware that ever since the first supply of milk to schools last week, enrollment in our ECDE centres had grown considerably," Sonko said.
The Governor also promised to build a modern ECDE center in every ward in Nairobi.
"There are 10 wards in Nairobi that do not have a single public primary school or ECDE centre."
He cited Utawala, Pipeline, Nyayo Highrise, Ngei, Ngando, Mabatini, Lucky Summer, Laini Saba, Kware and Imara Daima.
Sonko, at the same time, said his administration will contract a security firm to provide at least four guards in every ECDE centre.
Education executive Janet Muthoni said that at least 20 children who had dropped out of school have returned since last Friday when the first supply was made.
Brookside’s Taib said the processor was keen to impart onto school children, the values of nutrition and the benefits of consuming dairy products for healthy growth and development.
"Poor nutrition compromises both the quality of life of school-age children and their potential to benefit from education," she said.
"Attaining optimal nutrition involves eating three meals a day and two nutritious snacks, as well as limiting the intake of high-sugar and high-fat foods."
She said Brookside is confident the free school milk programme will increase both school attendance and retention levels.
"A key aspect of the programme will include communicating the importance of having dairy products as part of a healthy lifestyle for our young children," Taib said.