The Nairobi City County Executive Committee Member (CEC) for talent, skills development and care Rosemary Kariuki has called on parents, teachers and education stakeholders in Nairobi to rally behind the Nairobi County ‘Dishi Na County’ school feeding program that is currently providing lunch to pupils in public Primary Schools and Early Childhood Development Education centers within Nairobi.
Speaking in Nairobi, Kariuki, who heads the talent and skills development department which also comprises education in line with the competency based schools curriculum said that the program, although facing politically instigated fights is a game changer in how the county provides services in the education sector asking parents to support the program that has now reduced the burden of parents in providing lunch for their school going children in the county.
Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja made a reality the ‘Dishi na County’ school feeding initiative with the roll out of the programme that is aimed at providing hot meals to all pupils in Nairobi’s public primary schools and ECDE schools.
More than 88,000 children have been getting lunch time meals from the opening date of the schools third term with the program designed to feed over 250,000 children after the completion of construction of more kitchens to supplement the existing 10 kitchens.
“The county government under Governor Sakaja promised to start the Dishi Na County initiative and so far, the roll out has been done according to plan. I ask all parents, teachers and indeed all stakeholders in education to come together and support this programm it is the best thing that we can give to our children who now have a hot meal everyday and they can therefore concentrate with learning without having to fight the pangs of hunger,” Kariuki Said.
“Indeed, we know that Nairobi, especially in the poor urban set up, life is very difficult so the county wishes to make it easier for parents who pay only five shillings a day for their children’s lunch. We said that we are working for all Nairobians and we are not giving any empty promise,” Kariuki added.
Her sentiments were echoed by he predecessor in the ministry Brian Mulama, who is now the CEC in-charge of Mobility and works noting that this is a great initiative by the county which deserves to be supported by all Nairobians from all walks of life.
“The initiative is aimed to ensure that lunch meals delivered, logistics and technology used are top notch to ensure we are delivering the highest quality of food and service which our children deserve, Therefore, as I call on our parents to support this initiative, I want to assure them that my works department is working to ensure that the kitchens we construct are state of the art and the food delivered is best quality,” Mulama said.
The Dishi Na County Initiative has been facing opposition from quarters who have taken a political fight with Governor Sakaja and have been trying to derail the program which Kariuki said is at a point of no retreat.
Former Education CEC in the past regime Muthoni Ouko was first to rush to court seeking for the stop of the program before Embakasi East MP Babu Owino took the fight to Sakaja last weekend over the program. Babu said that the meals were not being delivered in time to schools, however, a spot check at randomly picked schools proved that the MP’s allegations were unfounded as meals at all the schools were delivered as scheduled.
In Muthoni Ouko’s court case, Lady Justice Mugure Thande in August issued conservatory orders in a case filed by Tunza Mtoto Coalition and Ouko who argued that the program that is expected to cost Ksh.1.2 billion is a national function.
In their application, the two petitioners said Nairobi County Governor Johnson Sakaja acted against the law in launching the program that they say is the function of the national government.
According to the petitioners, there was no deed of transfer between the national government and the county government in respect of the primary school functions.
However the program was successfully rolled out on 28th August and has received the backing of parents, teachers and the school going children as well as national and county leaders.
Roads and Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen has supported the initiative when he addressed congregants at the AIPCA Bahati cathedral in Nairobi before Chief Justice Martha Koome congratulated Sakaja on the initiative, ,during the opening of the four day long Employment and Labour relations Court symposium.
The initiative was launched by President William Ruto who has given it his full support.
Sakaja has reiterated that the program aims at cushioning poor and vulnerable parents from the current economic shocks while keeping children in schools.
This he said in the end will increase enrollment and transition to higher learning institutions in public primary schools and ECDs across 17 sub-counties in Nairobi.
The centralized kitchens have being constructed in Baba Dogo Primary School, Bidii Primary School, Kwa Njenga Primary, Farasi Lane Primary, Muthangari Primary, Kayole One Primary, Njiru Primary, Toi Primary, Roysambu Primary and Racecourse Primary.
Some Sh500 million is allocated to build seven more kitchens and the rest will subsidize the cost of a plate for each child.