Schools hit as 50kg bag of beans soars to Sh20,000 in Nandi

School Kitchen

A school kitchen. The food shortage hitting Nandi boarding schools has been occasioned by high food prices in the country.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Public boarding schools in Nandi County are faced with a serious food shortage and are struggling to keep students in school.

The food shortage has been occasioned by high food prices in the country.

Parents are struggling to pay school fees for their children, leaving the burden of feeding them on already financially strained schools.

Nation.Africa has established that schools are buying a 50kg bag of beans at Sh20,000, while a 50kg bag of maize is going for between Sh7,000 and Sh8,000, pushing the cost of students’ upkeep high. 

Due to the high cost of living, school suppliers have also issued tough conditions to schools, demanding advance payment before supplying beans and maize, and other essential food items.

Nation. Africa established that suppliers had declined to accept cheques over claims that they were being issued with bouncing cheques due to delays in schools receiving funding from the government.

Most schools are broke, and a majority of school heads are frustrated due to the high food prices.

Governor Stephen Sang has revealed that secondary school heads in the county have been making requests to the county government to support the buying of food for learners, citing the high cost of living.

“Whenever I come to my office, I find several requests from schools asking my administration to support them to purchase maize and beans, which they cannot afford unless the prices drop,” the governor stated.

He urged school heads to source maize and beans from regions where prices are cheaper to keep learners in school. 

Several principals noted that the high food prices had subjected them to frustrations in keeping students in boarding schools, and petitioned the government to provide funds to schools to meet the high cost of living.

According to the Secondary Schools Heads Association chairman, Nandi Central, Mr Zakayo Chepchieng, the high food prices crisis has affected all schools and they have to spend extra money to keep learners in school.

Mr Chepchieng noted that before the prices of maize and beans increased, schools had no challenges feeding students in boarding schools, but they are now stretched to the limit.

“Parents are still paying the same school fees, most of them in small installments unlike before when they paid complete sums without complaining to school heads,” said the official.

Public schools said unless the National Treasury and Ministry of Education provide extra funds on time, they risk being grounded.

Multiple interviews in various schools established nearly all public schools in the county had planned for their budget using old food and commodity prices before new prices of various food items became effective when schools opened in January.

Boarding schools with populations of more than 1,000 learners are the most affected and school heads have to ensure students are served normal portion sizes to prevent unrest.

At Cardinal Odinga Kapkagaon Secondary School in Nandi Central, the principal, Mrs Ruth Koech, told Nation.Africa that schools with less than 300 students are not spared either, and are equally suffering since all funds paid as school fees by parents go to buying food.

The Sh28 billion capitation money that Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu promised would be sent to schools across the country has not been received in schools.

Speaking at Mukumu Girls High School in Kakamega County last Saturday, Mr Machogu noted that the funds were to be sent to schools before this week. But the money had not been received by schools by Thursday.