A little girl's letter did the trick


STANDING UP FOR RIGHTS: B.G. Arundhati Chand  

Roy Mathew

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: "Senior boys and girls in my school get noon meals and egg. But I and my friends are getting nothing."

The complaint was from a pupil of a pre-primary school at Nedumangad, near here, to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.

The four-year-old B.G. Arundhati Chand, studying in UKG of Nedumangad Government Lower Primary School, was peeved by the fact that the noon meal scheme of the Government covered only the primary section of her school and not the pre-primary classes. She urged the Chief Minister to extend the scheme to pre-primary classes also.

She wrote the letter on November 24. The Chief Minister, who read the letter, immediately handed it over to the Director of Public Instruction for action. Subsequently, Mr. Chandy and Education Minister E.T. Mohammed Basheer visited some of the schools in Thiruvananthapuram district for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation.

Following this, the Chief Minister ordered that noon meals and weekly supplement of an egg should be provided in nursery schools also. The order covers 1,466 nursery schools attached to Government and aided schools and will benefit about 53,000 children. Arundhati and her friends will get the meals and egg from January. Currently, the noon meal scheme covers standards 1 to 7. Each pupil is given 60 grams of rice and 30 grams of pulses. On August 15 this year, the Chief Minister announced that an egg would be provided every week to the students as a supplement. This was to overcome nutritional deficiencies in children. A sum of Rs. 17.5 crores is spent annually on the programme. It covers 26 lakh pupils.

The cost of extending the scheme to the nursery schools will be about Rs. 1.18 crores a year.

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