Schoolchildren across the State may soon get more nutritional supplements in their food as the State government is seriously considering a proposal to provide either eggs or bananas to 62.52 lakh children in government and government-aided schools once a week.
The Department of Primary and Secondary Education has submitted a proposal to the government and has sought an additional Rs. 447.10 lakh for the scheme for the remainder of the academic year.
According to the proposal, a copy of which was made available to The Hindu, distribution of eggs or bananas could start by December.
Students are now served rice and sambhar from Monday to Thursday, bise bele bath on Friday and upma and sweet pongal on Saturdays. Since dal is not being used on Saturdays when upma and pongal is served, the department saves Rs. 4,099.64 lakh this academic year. To provide eggs to 62.52 lakh children during the academic year, from December, the department would require Rs. 4,546.74 lakh. But sources in the department said that as the department was saving Rs. 4,099.64 lakh, only Rs. 447.10 lakh would be required for the project this year.
The cost of each egg has been pegged at Rs. 3.25 and children who do not consume eggs would be provided with bananas for the same amount. However, from the next academic year, the department would require Rs. 9,943.75 lakh to provide eggs to 62.52 lakh children for 36 weeks. If the Rs. 4,099 lakh allocated for dal is saved, the department would require an additional Rs. 5,844.11 lakh to run the scheme from the next academic year.
Although the proposal was submitted by the department to the government last month, the government is yet to approve it.
Sources in the department said that the decision to provide eggs was not a demand-driven initiative but was being considered after poultry farmers under the banner of Karnataka Poultry Farmers and Breeders’ Association submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister to include eggs under the midday meal scheme.
While the cost of the project has been chalked out, the department is yet to work out other modalities after consulting nutrition experts.
Officials in the department point out that the dosage of egg needs to be planned appropriately as students are also given a glass of milkthrice a week and iron and folic acid tablets once every week.
Minister of State for Primary and Secondary Education Kimmane Ratnakar said that he would have to talk to other departments and also the Chief Minister, who holds the Finance portfolio, on the issue.