For some time, our mostly reliable maid was consistently late.
Why? Her daughter wasn’t well so wasn’t going to school.
However there is more to the story of her daughter’s mysterious fevers, broken arm and absence from school. This sweet young girl fears going to school…
- She was beaten for having her braid done differently and sent outside for 30 minutes to re-do it
- Each beating by the teacher would lead to any excuse to avoid going to class – so our maid’s meagre funds would go to chasing phantom fevers, frantic to find why her daughter kept falling ill and having accidents
- Until the story came out, in tears, her daughter confessed she is petrified of being abused by her teacher
A few months ago the programme of providing simple ‘nashta‘ (snacks) at the school stopped
- Many kids would go to school at 8:30am with empty stomachs
- The mid-day meal was their ticket to health – enabling their capacity to learn
- Without it, children go hungry until 4pm when released for the day… if there is decent food at home
What was the impact?
- Already burdened with 50+ kids in each class, without the mid-day meal, concentration lapsed
- The teacher, already prone to abusing the students into silence, lashed out with increasing ferocity
- Mostly the underprivileged girls who wouldn’t fight back bore the brunt – fist smashing down on an ear so severe to tear an earing, painful tugging of braids, whacks on the back and more
- Complaints from parents started pouring in – the teacher started being absent too!
Can anything be done? For the immediate situation, certainly!
- The matter was taken up with the ‘big’ teacher then principle
- The abusive teacher was fired but that doesn’t fix what caused halting the mid-day meal program
Apparently since the mid day meal scheme was introduced, it has been riddled with controversy and challenges in implementation. This school’s mid day meal was funded through an NGO and technically doesn’t qualify for the government program. So when the NGO ran into difficulty, the meals stopped.
The big picture is child hunger persists in India. A frightening 42.5% of children under 5 are underweight. And India State Hunger Index (ISHI) report has stated the country’s poor performance is driven by its high levels of child under-nutrition and poor calorie count.
India remains a country of contradictions. Incredible intelligence and crippling waste of potential talent with a faltering education system. No easy answers and despite some valiant efforts, situations like this put into perspective how far we still need to go.
- India’s Mid-Day Meal Scheme
- Two organisations doing something about this: World Food Programme & Akshaya Patra
- Mute – screaming silently
- Kicking corruption – Screening of “Jai Bhim Comrade”
So glad you are sharing the story. It’s amazing how important school meals can be! It’s one of our most important projects in WFP!
WFP is doing fabulous work – thanks for sharing! And yes – school meals make a significant difference.
also, here is a bit more about WFP’s work in SF
Added this link to the post! 🙂
There is so much wrong with the food chain in India. There’s plenty of food for everyone, in theory, but about 50% of fresh produce, for example, is wasted, because of inadequate storage/lack of cold chain facilities, driving up the prices for what’s left. It’s a crying shame.
It is indeed a crying shame. There are efforts to improve the supply chain to reduce the wastage due to inadequate refrigeration, etc… however a long way to go…
Corruption is another big problem in India. Passing state borders entails paying off officials, and when you’ve got a truck full of perishables, you’re in no position to argue. It either goes to waste, or by paying the bribe you’ll have to up the price to the end consumer. India has a notorious number of “middlemen”, and not just in the food chain, as you’ll be only too aware of.
Alas it is ever present… 😦
How awful, poor girl.
Thanks for sharing! This is one of the great things that the charity Akshaya Patra is working towards.
Her arm was even broken once – not entirely clear what happened but regardless – seriously NOT good! Thanks for sharing the link to Akshaya Patra – will add both it and WFP to the blog…
My gosh!! How terrible. Breaks my heart!!
God, that’s terrible. The poor girl. And poor children in general. Hope something is done.
Baby steps – the challenge is it is a system issue not just one incident.
I don’t understand the need to scrap the midday meal when there are so many useless, populist freebies being doled out across many states!!! Our ‘Amma’ is the queen of freebies. Wonder which world these policy makers live in……..certainly disconnected from the realities of this country.
The contradictions abound! Little to comprehend why this or that…