STATES

Concern grows in Tamil Nadu as Covid eats up mid-day meals scheme

Express News Service

CHENNAI:  As schools have again been shut due to the spike in Covid-19 cases, educationists and child rights activists are worried students won’t get noon meals anymore. Many educationists have stressed that the state government should immediately ensure schoolchildren get hot cooked meals as the occasional supply of dry ration isn’t enough to combat malnutrition among kids.

“For many poor and rural children, the cooked noon meal provided at school is the only proper meal they get the whole day. During the previous lockdown, we witnessed how children suffered when the meals were stopped and dry ration was distributed,” said K Nalini, a social worker working among slum children.

“If cooked food is not given, many students will go back to working in the fields or help their families make a living elsewhere,” said T Senthil, a teacher in Coimbatore. Tamil Nadu Child Rights Watch (TNCRW) state convenor Andrew Sesuraj feels the state government can utilise its ‘Illam Thedi Kalvi’ scheme to solve the problem. “Though schools are closed, Illam Thedi Kalvi programmes are being held. The government can use the scheme to supply cooked meals to lakhs of students,” he said. 

Illam Thedi Kalvi has been launched with an initial outlay of about Rs 200 crore to bridge learning losses among Class 1-8 students due to lack of access to structured education during the lockdown. Meanwhile, Prince Gajendra Babu, secretary of the state platform for the common school system, believes closing all schools across the state at once isn’t wise since the positivity rates in certain districts of Tamil Nadu is low.

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