Effects of school feeding programme on pupils enrollment in early childhood education in Karaba zone, Mbeere south district, Embu county
Githuku, Jackson Githinji
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School Feeding Program (SFP) as a social safety net has been popular in developing countries as an instrument for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. These programs are also advocated as important interventions for improving the human capital of school-aged children. The SFP is essential to provide a balanced diet to ECD children which would in turn enable the children to increase their attention span hence better academic achievement. The SFP is a crucial component in the development of a holistic child. The effect of under nutrition on young children aged 0-8 years can be devastating and enduring. Good nutrition is the first line of defence against numerous childhood diseases, which can leave their mark on a child for life. The purpose of this study was to establish effects of School Feeding Programme on enrolment in early childhood education in Karaba Zone, Mbeere South District. This study used descriptive research design. The target population was all the 29 head teachers of public pre-schools and all the 94 ECD teachers in all the 29 public preschools in Karaba Zone, Mbeere South District. Nine schools constituting 30% of the 29 schools in Karaba Zone, Mbeere South District were sampled. From each selected public pre-school a census approach was used for all the head 9 teachers and 31 ECD teachers. The study used both primary data and secondary data. The primary data was collected using questionnaires and interviews guides. The study used both open and close ended questionnaires which were administered to the head teachers and ECD teachers. The researcher employed the use of interview to parents in data collection to establish the background and attitude towards SFP and enrolment on early childhood education. In this study a pilot study was conducted to ensure reliability with selected respondents from one of the primary schools which were not included in the study. The researcher sought assistance from the supervisor, peers and other university lecturers, who were experts in research to ensure the validity of the instruments. The quantitative data was analyzed using descriptive statistics where the responses from the questionnaires were tallied, tabulated and analyzed using percentages, frequencies, mean and standard deviation using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). The qualitative data from the interview guide and the open-ended questions in the questionnaire were analyzed thematically using content analysis. The study found out that the schools offer on-site meals where children are fed with food mainly lunch while in school. 60.9% of the ECD teachers indicated that the types and methods of targeting school feeding programmes affect the enrolment in early childhood education in the schools to a great extent. Further, the study deduced that the challenges faced in sustaining school feeding programmes in the schools include some parents being unable to provide the required money, getting firewood is a problem and paying the cook sometimes is a problem. On the same the study found out that the challenges mentioned affect early childhood education enrolment to a moderate extent. The study concluded that the school feeding programme has helped in retaining the children in the school since its commencement, reduced abscentism, improved performance as a result of daily attendance of school by children and the health of the children has also improved as compared to when there was no feeding programme. The study recommended that the school feeding programme should be introduced in all schools in Kenya.