In schools where the scheme has been sustained, the ambit of the philanthropy keeps expanding

Thanks to the community breakfast scheme made possible since 2007 by local philanthropists for the benefit of children from poor families, several hundreds of students in 20 primary and upper primary schools within corporation limits are able to concentrate well in classroom.

Till the scheme was introduced, the students, mostly children of construction workers and farm labourers, used to attend classes with empty stomach. Under the scheme initiated by S. Sivakumar, senior lecturer, District Institute of Education and Training, based on his research indicating a corollary between the hungry state of students in the morning hours and poor academic performance, philanthropists were mobilised to sustain the scheme.

The initiative gathered momentum and was extended to 30 schools at one point of time, but subsequently the number dwindled to 20 since in some of the schools, the momentum was lost after retirement or transfer of school heads.

However, in schools where the scheme has been sustained, the ambit of the philanthropy keeps expanding. Among them was the Thennur Middle School where the scheme entered the sixth year on Tuesday.

While Balaji, a Rotarian, donated 50 steel plates, functionaries of Inner Wheel Club, Tiruchi: B. Vidya Balagi, secretary, and V. Nandhini, Past President, sponsored the special breakfast consisting of idli, kesari, sambar and chutney. G. Raghavan, school head, a recipient of Dr. Radhakrishnan Best Teacher Award, and the correspondent K. Karunakaran were filled with gratitude over the gesture of philanthropists. Generous-minded people have been sponsoring breakfast to mark occasions such as birthday, wedding days and death anniversaries of relatives.

There have been multiple benefits for students from the scheme reflecting in improved physical health, better social relations with teachers, higher degree of engagement in class activities, punctuality, and full attendance, explains Mr. Sivakumar. Citing the free breakfast scheme launched by the Thiruvananthapuram city corporation in 2007 factoring in these advantages, he appealed to the Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to introduce the scheme in entire Tamil Nadu.

As in the case of noon meal scheme, which could bring about a drastic improvement in school enrolment and help check dropout rate, the morning free breakfast scheme is also a felt need as poor parents leave for work very early in the mornings, causing children to go hungry. Without breakfast, children from weaker sections of society suffer from lapses in concentration, drowsiness, irritability and weakness. Such children are susceptible to academic failure, Mr. Sivakumar explained.