MPs turn down return of “Maziwa Ya Nyayo era” over budget headache

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Members of Parliament rejected a bill that sort to bring back the provision of milk to children in school saying that it will be costly.

The return of the small packets of milk would cost the Treasury Ksh.1 billion weekly and Ksh.36 billion in a year.

The National Assembly’s Education Committee rejected the bill, citing a lack of funding for the program and the possibility of it derailing the present school meals program, which focuses on low-income communities.

The rejected proposals 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 the Maziwa ya Nyayo program was canceled after it proved too costly and unsustainable for successive governments.

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja is among senior politicians in the country who have been championing the reintroduction of Maziwa Ya Nyayo.

“We used to have a school feeding program. When I was growing up in Nairobi, we used to have Maziwa ya Nyayo which was milk we got in school. As you remember the first anniversary of the late President Moi, he left a mark,” said Sakaja.

The Basic Education (Amendment) Bill, 2020 sponsored by Nominated Senator Beatrice Kwamboka sought to compel the national government in consultation with county governments to provide milk to learners enrolled in pre-primary and primary schools.

“In seeking to provide milk for learners, other school meals would be affected owing to budgetary shortfalls,” Florence Mutua, who chairs the committee, said.

KANU party leader Gideon Moi, who is one of the OKA Principals, also hinted at the possible revival of the free school milk program in an effort to boost enrolment among primary schools in the country.

The program was initially introduced in 1978 following the death of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta by then-president Daniel Arap Moi. Within a year, school enrolment rose from 2,994,991 in 1978 to 3,698,216 in 1979 as a result of the program, aptly dubbed Maziwa ya Nyayo.

The program, which was in place for two decades, saw the late Arap Moi etch himself into Kenyan history, with a number of songs crafted to recognize his efforts in promoting education in the country.

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