The School feeding program, among other interventions initiated by the Government have revamped the Early Childhood Education sector in West Pokot County.
This has shown a tremendous rise in school enrollment, transition and retention rates.
The County now has 85,000 ECDE pupils, a record increase from 54,000 in 2017.
Speaking at his official residence in Kapenguria while releasing 2 tonnes of the first trench of fortified porridge flour to all stand alone ECDE Centers across the County, area Governor John Lonyangapuo said that the flour is rich in minerals and has boosted nutrition levels in school going children.
He noted that the program targets young learners in the County so as to boost enrollment whereby every child will be served a cup of porridge meal in the morning and after classes every day.
He noted that the program is done yearly and this is the fourth year they are doing it in the 1200 ECDE centers in the County.
“We ensure that our ECDE children get food and porridge. They take it in the morning and at 10 during break time they take porridge,” said Prof Lonyangapuo.
The County boss pointed out that they have employed 1800 ECDE teachers.
“We have empowered and trained them. We have ensured that they have a good working environment, water and good pay,” he said.
He explained that the nutritious porridge flour has various minerals aimed at fighting malnutrition among school going children.
“The County is one of the Counties that have a high malnutrition rate in the country and the roll out of the program aims to address the challenges of children not attending classes because of hunger,” said Prof Lonyangapuo.
He noted that in addition, 2,835 chairs have been dispatched to ECDE Centers in Kapenguria, Masol, Siyoi, Alale and Sekerr Wards.
County Executive Member for Education Jackson Yaralima said ECD enrolment has been low in the County because many parents don’t value early childhood education.
He called on parents in the area to take children to schools.
“We shall invest and put in more money. We want to have two teachers in every ECDE center,” he said.
He cited that enrollment has increased and they target the most vulnerable children.
The County official said the feeding program for ECD centres is targeting a higher enrollment and encouraging the young learners to stay in school throughout the year with the main objective of increasing literacy level.
“Learning environment for children at modern ECD centers has been improved following the supply of learning and teaching materials for the first time,” he said.
Parents commended the initiative saying they had been hard hit by the drought and ECDE centers that offer lunch to pupils came in handy.
He said that during the last planting season, crops in the area failed leading to hunger.
“Crops withered .We don’t want parents to keep children at home because of hunger. The stunted growth is high in the County and we want others to embrace the program. We have set up 1200 ECDE centers,” said Eric Pkiech.