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MPs Reject School Milk Plan

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MPs Reject School Milk Plan

MPs Reject School Milk Plan.
MPs have rejected a Bill that seeks to reintroduce the provision of free milk to school children under a multi-billion shilling State-funded scheme.
The programme would have distributed free milk in public primary and pre-primary schools in a bid to encourage pupils to stay in school.
But the National Assembly’s Education committee rejected proposals that would have ushered in the return of the tiny packets of milk popular with school children during the reign of former President Daniel Arap Moi in the 1980s and 90s.
The scheme popularly known as Maziwa Ya Nyayo programme was cancelled after it proved too costly and unsustainable for successive governments.
Returning it could have cost the Treasury Sh1 billion per week to provide 250ml packets of milk to Kenya’s nearly 24,000 schools’ 8.3 million students.
This would have risen to Sh36 billion per year, putting a strain on a government already dealing with rising costs and worsening debt service obligations.
The Nominated Senator Beatrice Kwamboka-sponsored Basic Education (Amendment) Bill, 2020 sought to compel the national government, in consultation with county governments, to provide milk to learners enrolled in pre-primary and primary schools.
The National Assembly’s Education committee rejected the Bill, citing a lack of a budget for the program and the risk of it jeopardizing the current school meals program, which targets low-income areas, particularly slums.
“In seeking to provide milk for learners, other school meals would be affected owing to budgetary shortfalls,” Florence Mutua, who chairs the committee, said.
The committee recommended that the Bill not be passed unless a policy on providing free school milk is introduced.
“The proposal is that prescriptions on the expansion of the school meals programme are firstly relegated to policy before they become legislated,” the committee said during the scrutiny of the Senate Bill.
The school feeding program began in Kenya in 1980, with the World Food Programme initially supporting 240,000 children (WFP).
WFP withdrew and handed over meal responsibility for over 540,000 primary school children in arid and semi-arid counties to the government in July 2018.
Since WFP’s departure, the program has experienced periodic breakdowns due to underfunding.
Every day, it targets 1.5 million children, with the government spending Sh11 per child per day.
“The respective roles of the national and county governments should be delineated so as to avoid any potential conflict,” the Assembly team said in justifying rejection of the Bill.
The committee stated that pre-primary education is a devolved function because it falls under the functions and powers of county governments as outlined in the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution.
“Clearly, demarcating the role of national government from that of county government as set out in the Constitution is necessary to avoid conflict on who is responsible,” Ms Mutua said.
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The Bill proposed that county directors of education handle the distribution of free school milk.
The Bill will now be sent back to the Senate with amendments, and if the Senate cannot reach an agreement with the National Assembly, the proposed law will be referred to mediation.

MPs Reject School Milk Plan.

MPs Reject School Milk Plan.

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