Nepal | December 19, 2018

Meal scheme aims to reduce absenteeism in schools

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, December 29: The Ministry of Education is preparing to provide fortified rice as school meal for children in the country.

The programme, which will be launched in January, will cover primary level schools in 10 districts including Bajhang, Bajura, Accham, Dadeldhura, Baitadi, Darchula, Rukum, Dailelh and Jajarkot.

Earlier, the education ministry provided Unilito — cereal flour for schoolchildren. However, the ministry decided to place it with rice after it was revealed that the “flour was served without
cooking.”

“We have decided to provide fortified rice as it is easy to cook and is nutritious for children. Fortification is the practice of deliberately increasing the content of an essential micronutrient, such as vitamins and minerals (including trace elements) in a food, so as to improve its nutritional quality. It is beneficial for schoolchildren as the food is healthy,” said Bishnu Prasad Bhandari, acting programme director, Food for Education Project, Ministry of Education.

“A pilot project was launched in Darchula since last year and as the trial has become successful the ministry is planning to extend it to other nine districts,” said Bhandari, adding that meal will be provided for 200 days a year to 236,000 schoolchildren.

The education ministry has already imparted training to 2,200 schools to launch the programme.

“The programme is aimed at reducing absenteeism in schools. It will also help reduce malnutrition among children,” added Bhandari.

As per Nepal Demographic and Health Survey 2016, 36 per cent children below five years of age are stunted, 12 per cent severely stunted, 10 per cent wasted, two per cent severely wasted (too thin for their height), 27 per cent underweight, five per cent severely underweight (too thin for their age), while around 1 per cent of the children are overweight (heavy for their height) in the country.

“The programme the education ministry is preparing to launch aims to reduce hunger and malnutrition among children,” added Bhandari.


A version of this article appears in print on December 30, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.


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