Kiswahili translated to mean "Together We Can Nurture our Children"
KUEF is continuously looking for new ways to improve the access to and quality of education in the Kithoka area. After numerous discussions with Principals and teachers at BLISS and Gichunge and Kithoka Primary schools and some baseline research conducted by our Research Interns, KUEF has decided to support the development of a school feeding program to provide meals at the two primary schools. Currently they are not feeding students.
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Gichunge and Kithoka Primary Schools are both located in the Kithoka area of Meru and serve as the two primary 'feeder schools' for BLISS. Gichunge Primary School was established in 1977. Currently the school has 12 teachers, including one teacher for the nursery school and another who teaches the Special Education class. As of March, 2011, the school has a new Principal: Mrs. Serena Wanjala. The school has a total student population of 267 students.
Kithoka Primary School was established in 1965. It currently has 15 teachers and a Deputy Principle, Adam Jamal and Head Principle, Nathan Ngiti. Kithoka primary has a student population of 446 students including a nursery school and standards 1-8. Each standard is composed of two classes. Both of these schools are public day schools that operate with very little financial resources. In 2010, the government provided 350 ksh, roughly $4, per student per year to pay for school expenses. An additional 185 ksh, $2, was given per pupil for the entire school year to cover maintenance and repair of the school and pay for support staff. Parents are responsible for paying 600 ksh ($7) per school year, and provide a uniform for their children, including shoes costing them around 2,200 ksh, ($27.) This can be a huge expense for a family that makes less than $50 a month, especially considering most have more than one student. At Gichunge Primary 7% of the student population are orphaned, 11% have lost their father and 22% have lost their mother. At both schools the majority of parents, 92%, work as small holder (subsistence) farmers. Their wages are not always consistent and different factors such as weather and gas prices can influence how much they are paid. If a student is living with just one parent it can be extremely difficult for them to provide balanced meals on a daily basis.
According to the 2009 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey, 30 percent of children and youth, in Kenya, are too short for their age, or stunted. Stunting indicates chronic malnutrition. Almost six percent of Kenyan children are wasted, or thin for their height (KDHS, 2009). Wasting is a sign of severe malnutrition. Overall, one in five children is under- weight in Kenya. Stunting, wasting, and underweight are most common in rural areas and among families of lower socioeconomic status.
A questionnaire was given to 85% of the student population at Gichunge Primary and 50% of the student population at Kihtoka Primary. The survey consisted of 33 questions, divided into five sections consisting of familial information, economic, social, education and nutrition information. After the demographic survey 61% of the student population at Kithoka Primary and 89% of the students at Gichunge Primary were measured and weighed. This data was then interpreted using the Weight-for-Height reference table established by the WHO in 2009.
How to get involved
KUEF is accepting donations to cover the start up fee's of building a feeding program for both primary schools. We are currently working with a committee of Kenyans in Meru to create a master plan to get the feeding program started. Our long term goal is to have the feeding program be sustainable and not reliant on KUEF for long-term finical support.