Published:  12:33 AM, 09 September 2019

National school meal policy brings momentum to primary education

National school meal policy brings momentum to primary education

The government's one of prime moves to introduce luncheon in the primary schools under "National School Meal Policy, 2019" deserves appreciation. The policy would surely help to attract tender aged students towards elementary education, no doubt.

Nevertheless, the alarming dropout rate would be minimized than before. If such health friendly package is continued in future, a new nation would lead the country successfully with enough nutrition. If any nation suffers from malnutrition, the economy cannot expect expected growth anyhow.

It is hoped that the meal for the students contains balanced diet. So, those students will be able to eat the cooked food in school campus, must able to show strength to take the country to a new height.

Earlier, different kinds of dry food items were delivered to the students aiming to increase the presence rate in the school. Many international reputed donor organizations do this in accordance with government's approval. So, introduction of meal policy by the current government is laudable. To educate any student properly from elementary level is a must to be focused globally.

Newly introduced midday meal program is expected to contribute more in the country's difficult-to-reach areas where dropout rate is reportedly alarming. On hearing this unexpected news, hue and cry among primary students is notably observed as the majority students come schools from poor families.

The people who leave from hand to mouth have no duties to feed their school going children during mid-day. Their guardians are also happy naturally over the policy. So, it is high time to bring the students into school campus with feeding luncheon that contains balanced diet.  It was found that the presence of students increased by 11 percent in schools where cooked food is being served and by 6 percent where biscuits are being given to the kids.

According to Directorate of Primary Education, dropout rate in primary schools was 47.2 percent in 2005 and in 2015 the rate stood only 20.4 percent. Against the backdrop of this development, the has a role, no doubt.  The government is trying its level best to make sure desired attendance rate in state run primary schools by providing lunch and snacks.

The government thinks if around 1.5 crore students are brought under mid-day meal policy by 2023, the country sees development in respect of students' regular presence in schools. Among South Asian countries, Bangladesh has gained the ability to educate elementary education with providing delicious food items.

I think the success of the newly introduced program depends on the activities of National School meal authority comprising good natured people in the society. They have to dedicate themselves for the interest of the country.

To make ready the cooked food within time frame, the authorities' supervision is a must. While purchasing food ingredients and vegetables, the physical presence of the authority must be confirmed. If found any irregularities in the schools regrading food supply, the authority had better seek help of upazila Education Officers.

The government's budget for mid-day meal policy has been fixed at handsome amount of money aiming to fulfill the vision set by the government. Basically, district and upazila education officers have to take the responsibility to make the program a success. They have to pay sudden visit in schools to see the works of meal authority nominated by the government.

Moreover, they have to follow up the development of dropout rate before and after introduction of lunch. Many influential people having political backup will try to avail of the opportunity by snatching a portion of government approved budget. A section of people is probably waiting for the budget sanctioned by the government to eat up budget through wrongdoing. The state has to control this malpractice if found.

A wider range of corruption in developing and least developed countries is notably observed countrywide. To control this is very tough job. I will request the regulators related with education to utilize the money properly. If the money goes to wrong places, the program brings a curse instead of blessing.  Primary education is expected to see the ray of hope shortly with seeing the good presence rate of the students in schools if all out supports from all are made sure.

The policy is expected to help the poverty-stricken learners to be grown up with enjoying the foods containing required level of calorie that is needed to serve the country in future. So, I welcome the kids to attend the school just after sunrise to turn them into global leaders through pursuing elementary education with balanced diet.

Md Mazadul Hoque is a columnist and currently serving at Social Islami Bank Ltd. Member- Bangladesh Economic Association ( BEA). He can be reached at : mazadul1985@gmail.com

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