Projects to strengthen school feeding programme
The government has taken different projects to strengthen the school feeding (SF) programme across the country in a bid to enhance primary school attendance and reducing drop-out rate.
As part of its SF pro-gramme, the government has already started providing around 83,000 students of about 650 government, non-government and NGO-run primary schools in the city with nutritious biscuits under an emergency SF programme from April 15, sources in the Directorate of Primary Education (DPE) said.
Under the programme funded by World Food Programme (WFP), poor and underprivileged children living in Demra, Motijheel, Lalbagh, Mirpur, Gulshan are getting a packet of nutritious biscuits during the school hours, they added.
“Not only in the villages, but the conditions of the poor people and slum dwellers in the city areas are also vulnerable and to meet their need for nutrition and enhancing their attendance the government has taken the programme,” Bablu Kumar Saha, director of DPE (planning and development) and project director of SF Programme told The Daily Star yesterday.
He further said the biscuit contains vitamins, minerals and kilocalorie and it will meet the need for nutrition if the children have the biscuits regularly.
A major portion of students attending primary schools belongs to poor or low-income groups and many schoolchildren suffer from malnutrition.
According to government statistics, 91 percent of the country's children are enrolled in the primary schools, but 48 percent of them dropout before completing primary education.
The government is prioritising the SF programme and the main target of the programme is to ensure enrolment of all children in the schools by 2011, Bablu said, adding that the government is planning to expand the school feeding programme.
In addition, the government has taken a Tk 800 crore project to expand the SF programme in 80 upazilas, particularly in dropout and poverty-prone areas, said DPE sources.
The planning commission has already approved it, they said adding the government plans to provide eggs, bread or banana on alternative days side-by-side nutritious biscuits.
“It will help the local economy and encourage the local people to rear chickens or produce banana to supply those to the schools,” said a source.
The government is also planning to launch another SF project with the cooperation of European Commission (EC), sources added.
The project titled 'European Commission Assisted School Feeding Programme' will run in 10 upazilas of six divisions from June-July, which will cover around 2 lakh children.
According to the DPE sources, currently the government with the help of WFP is running its regular SF programme in 17 upazilas of three districts -- Kurigram, Gaibandha and Kishoreganj where six lakh students are the beneficiaries.
Besides, SF programme is also being carried out in the Sidr-affected areas in the southern region of the country, covering 4 lakh children.
SF programme is also being carried out in three hilly districts, sources said.