Not 500, 20 or 30! | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 17, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:28 AM, September 17, 2020

Not 500, 20 or 30!

Planning Commission proposes two groups to go abroad under school feeding project

The planning commission has proposed for sending two groups of primary education officials -- 10 to 15 members in each -- abroad for having knowledge about school feeding progarmme there.

Earlier, the Primary and Mass Education Ministry in the Development Project Proposal (DPP) of Primary School Feeding Programme (PSFP) proposed to send 500 officials abroad for training and knowledge gathering about school feeding programmes at a cost of Tk five crore from the project.

Primary and mass education senior secretary Akram-Al-Hossain said they proposed for sending 500 officials abroad taking one official each from 509 upazilas. 

"But the planning commission after a Project Evaluation Committee meeting proposed for sending two teams abroad," said Akram, while speaking with reporters at secretariat yesterday.

He said that each team can be consisted with 10 to 15 officials.

Akram said his ministry can even drop the idea of sending officials abroad. "We made a draft proposal, and it is yet to be passed by Ecnec, where everything will be scrutinised," he added.

He made the comments at a time when the primary and mass education ministry is facing massive criticism on social media over sending officials abroad for the project.

At the press conference, state minister of primary and mass education Zakir Hossen said they proposed sending officials abroad to see management of overall school feeding policy, not to learn how to cook khichuri. "There is no reason for creating hullaballoo regarding the matter," he said.

"We wanted officials to see management of school feeding programme, whether it is run by government or others. They [officials] might need some experience to run the school feeding policy," he added.

"Some BNP Jamaat people are joining journalism profession… They write a report on anything and think it is done. They don't see the image of government," Zakir said.

"Please keep an eye that image of the government does not face any crisis," he added.

The government has chalked out a mammoth Tk 19,282 crore project proposal to provide daily school meals to government primary school students.

Primary and mass education ministry sent the DPP to the Planning Commission in early July for approval.

According to officials, the five-year school feeding programme will run from July 2020 to June 2025. The government will bear the cost of the project, under which 1.47 crore students of 65,620 government primary schools will get cooked meals for three days per week and fortified biscuits for the other three.

DPP proposed for allocation of Tk 17,185 crore to procure biscuits and materials for khichuri. It also said that Tk 1,718 crore will be needed for the distribution of the feeding programme. Beside, TKk10 crore will be needed for providing training of officials at home and Tk 6 crore will be spent for consultants.

The cabinet in August 2019 approved the National School Meal Policy-2019, designed to increase attendance and reduce the rate of dropouts, as well as to ensure that children get at least 30 percent of their required daily calorie intake at school, said officials.

Bangladesh currently has two school feeding programmes. Under one, the government distributes packets of biscuits to nearly 3 million children at primary schools in 104 upazilas. Under a separate pilot project, some 34,000 students get vegetable khichuri meals in three upazilas.

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