• The Basic Education (Amendment) Bill, 2020 sponsored by Nominated Senator Beatrice Kwamboka (ODM) proposes free milk for all pupils.
• Free school milk was first introduced by President Daniel Arap Moi in the 1980s to improve children's health and nutrition.
A Senate Bill proposes all pupils be given free milk at school to improve their nutrition.
The free school milk programme, Maziwa ya Nyayo, was introduced by President Daniel Moi in the 1980s.
The Basic Education (Amendment) Bill, 2020 sponsored by nominated Senator Beatrice Kwamboka (ODM) proposes re-introduction of free supply of milk to all pupils and pe-primary learners.
The Bill comes at a time when the government-funded school feeding programme has run into trouble due to a Sh500 million budget cut and the exit of the big donor, the World Food Programme.
The Education ministry warned the budget cuts would make it harder to retain children in schools in arid and semi-arid areas.
Since WFP's exit, the programme has been grappling with occasional breakdowns caused by underfunding. It targets 1.5 million children each day, the government spending Sh11 per child per day.
The new milk Bill says distribution would be handled by county directors of education.
“School milk programmes not only positively contribute to the growth of the dairy sector, but they also improve nutrition and increase school attendance,” the Bill reads.
The Bill will be up for the First Reading in the Senate on Tuesday.
The Maziwa ya Nyayo programme introduced by Moi was cancelled after it proved too costly and unsustainable for successive governments.
Kwamboka said school health and nutrition interventions have been recognised as critical in meeting the Millennium Development Goals of universal basic education and gender equality in education access.
“The national government shall in consultation with county governments and, to increase school enrolment and to ensure the nutritional well-being of learners, provide milk to learners enrolled in pre-primary and primary schools,” the proposed law reads.
The Cabinet may prescribe the criteria for supplying milk to schools and implementation of other school feeding programmes.
Kwamboka says schools taking part in the programme provide a guaranteed market for milk for smallholder farmers who produce 80 per cent of Kenya's milk.
She says the United Kingdom's school feeding programme was the first component of welfare reform in 1906
In Brazil, the school feeding progamme is prioritised in the Zero Hunger Strategy to address hunger and ensure the human right to adequate food for all.
“School health and nutrition programmes, particularly when embedded within broader child development strategies, are an integral part of the long-term development of a child," the Bill reads.
“As part of inclusive of maternal and child health as well as early childhood development, school health and nutrition programmes are critical in ensuring a child is able to reach their full potential," it reads.
The proposed law suggests that in the long-term, counties will begin to rise above poverty as more children complete their education due to improved nutrition and retention in school.
(Edited by V. Graham)