MPs reject return of Maziwa ya Nyayo to schools

Nominated Senator Beatrice Kwamboka

Nominated Senator Beatrice Kwamboka. She sponsored a Bill proposing re-introduction of free supply of milk to all pupils and pre-primary learners.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

Members of the National Assembly have dashed school going children’s hopes of receiving free milk, popularly known as Maziwa ya Nyayo, after it rejected the Basic Education (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

The Bill, sponsored by Nominated Senator Beatrice Kwamboka, proposes re-introduction of free supply of milk to all pupils and pre-primary learners.

“School milk programmes not only positively contribute to the growth of the dairy sector, but they also improve nutrition and increase school attendance,” the bill says.

“School health and nutrition programmes, particularly when embedded within broader child development strategies, are an integral part of the long-term development of a child," further reads the Bill.

The Bill emanated from the senate and was passed in July last year but was sent to the National Assembly for concurrence before being sent to President Uhuru Kenyatta to assent to it.

However, the National Assembly committee on education slammed brakes on the Bill saying it would affect other school meal programmes which are currently ongoing.

“The implementation of the amendment would amount to expanding the current school meals programme. In seeking to provide milk for learners, other meals would be affected owing budgetary shorts,” the committee says in its consideration of the proposal.

The committee further pointed out that before the proposal is brought to Parliament as a legislation, it needs to become a policy first before it can be legislated.

The Maziwa ya Nyayo programme was introduced by late President Daniel Moi but was cancelled after it proved too costly and unsustainable for successive governments.

While passing the Bill last year, senators said the re-introduction of the will improve nutrition.

“By supporting this Bill, we will not only increase enrolment of children to schools but also increase the literacy levels on a gender basis. We will also benefit in terms of equity of health nutrition,” Nominated Senator Naomi Shiyonga during the debate of the Bill in the senate.

The Bill now heads back to the Senate. If Senators agree with the observations of the National Assembly, then that will be the end of it but if they reject the reasons advanced, then the Bill heads to the mediation committee.

The mediation committee will have 30 days to thrash out the divisive clauses.

Mediation is a process by which the Houses of Parliament attempt to build consensus on contended provisions of a Bill or the entire Bill whose passage requires consideration by both Houses.

Mediation happens when one House disagrees with the version of a Bill or amendments made to it by the other House. The intention of mediation is to develop an agreed version of the Bill that can be passed by both Houses.

A mediation committee consists of an equal number of members of both the National Assembly and Senate appointed by the two speakers who mostly consults the Whips.

The committee mostly consists of the mover of the Bill, chairpersons or members of the relevant committee, ranking members that originally considered the Bill, members with strong views either against or in support of the contended clauses.

Other members of the committee include members with experience on the subject of the Bill and leaders of the Majority and Minority parties.

In accordance with Article 112 of the constitution, the mediation committee is required to resolve the stalemate within 30 days. When the mediation committee fails to agree, the Bill is deemed to have been defeated and the process starts afresh in the same or amended form.

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