Mid-day meal programme effective in keeping children in school in MakwanpurgadhiThe rural municipality has allocated Rs 10 million for the programme in the running fiscal year.
Schools in Makwanpurgadhi Rural Municipality, Makwanpur, recorded no dropouts for this academic year after the introduction of the mid-day meal programme in the area.
From the current academic year, the rural municipal office has managed mid-day meals for all students in basic schools. There are 3,550 students enrolled at 40 basic schools (up to grade 5) this year.
The government had introduced the programme to encourage students from poverty-stricken families who could not afford a good meal a day to attend schools. The lunch includes porridge with corn or millet flour bread.
Bidur Humagain, chairman at the rural municipality, said that students have been regularly attending schools after the programme was introduced in the local unit. He said, “All of the school-going children have been admitted to the school this year.”
Chaturbhuj Paudel, headmaster of the Saraswati Basic School in Aambhanjyang, said that students’ enthusiasm to attend schools has risen since the launch of the free lunch programme. “Last year, there were only 48 students in the school. But now we have 77 students here. In the past, many students used to leave school mid-session,” said Paudel, adding that the children who had stopped attending school have started to return this year.
The campaign of the local unit has been effective in encouraging students to attend schools in Manjushree and Ujjwal Basic Schools, where there were a limited number of pupils in the past. Seeta Neupane, the principal of Ujjwal Basic School, said that they were going to merge their school with another due to a lack of students but they have put the idea on hold. “We had only 20 students in the last academic year. This year, we have 40.”
According to Humagain, they have managed mid-day meals for 3,550 students (a meal worth Rs 15 per student). “After the launch of the programme, we saw that since hunger was taken care of, the students were more focussed in their lessons,” said Humagain.
Bidur Lamichhane, chief at the health section of the rural municipality, said that the mid-day meal has had a positive effect on children’s health as the schools are preparing meals through local organic foods.
The majority of students in the school are from the Tamang community. Out of 10 local units in the district, Makwanpurgadhi Rural Municipality is the only local unit that allocated budget for the mid-day meal programme this fiscal year. Humagain said, “The rural municipality allocated Rs 10 million for the programme in the running fiscal year. We are very happy with the results the mid-day meal programme is reaping.”