'Improve school infrastructure to ensure health'

Shridhar Venkat,  CEO, The Akshaya Patra Foundation below.

By Shridhar Venkat

In February 2019, the Government revised the budgetary expenditure and allocation of Mid-Day Meal (MDM) Scheme from ₹10,500 Cr to ₹12,054 Cr. It was a welcome move, highlighting the Government’s intent and commitment to the welfare and development of the children of our country. Akshaya Patra appreciates the Government’s annual work plan and measures adopted to reform the programme.

We request the Government to allocate funds for improving the school infrastructure to ensure hygienic and healthy school environment, improved meal experience, clean hand wash and sanitation facilities, and an overall positive learning environment. We urge the Government to focus on the convergence of drinking and potable water schemes of the Jal Shakti Ministry with the Mid-Day Meal Programme by earmarking the budget for the scheme.

 We also request to the Government to consider budgetary allocations for monitoring the growth and development of all the children in Primary and Upper Primary Schools and set up a parallel linkage with the National Health Mission in cases of referrals. We are also hopeful that the MDM Programme will be aligned with the parameters of POSHAN Abhiyan to address child malnutrition using various interventions. 

We also appeal to the Government to make budgetary allocation for extending the coverage of MDM Programme to children studying in classes 9th and 10th in Government and Government-aided schools to ensure continuum care to all school-going children in the country.

With such investments, we as a nation will be in a better position to achieve the food, nutrition, health and education outcomes of the mid-day meal initiative and boost child welfare and education.

We would like to reiterate our commitment to the Government’s initiatives aimed at the holistic growth and development of children. We will continue to offer our services and assistance in the implementation of these initiatives.

The author is CEO at The Akshaya Patra Foundation below.

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