Chandigarh, August 28
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin attended an event in a Corporation School at Chennai. When he was interacting with some of the children, he saw that some of them were tired and weary. He asked them with motherly concern, why is it so? He was shocked to hear that many of the students do not eat in the morning and attend the school in hunger. After consulting officials, he ordered that the Breakfast Scheme should be implemented immediately. That's how, this flagship Breakfast Scheme came into being in no time. Even though initiatives for this have been taken in different periods earlier, it took shape only during the rule of Chief Minister MK Stalin.
The Chief Minister stated that the Breakfast Scheme is being implemented to feed the children who come to school hungry. He reiterated that no one should think this scheme as free or charity and this is the duty and responsibility of a government and directed the teachers, officials and staff to provide food with more caring and kindness. “Dear students, we are serving you breakfast and lunch. Study without worrying about anything and concentrate only on your studies. Don't give up education under any circumstances for any reason,” the Chief Minister stated.
This is the state where Ramalinga Vallalar lived and quoted that “I withered whenever I saw withered crop”.
In Tamil Nadu even an individual won’t tolerate people suffering from hunger, how could the Government or Chief Minister do so. After deep thinking, mid-day-meal scheme was formulated to eradicate hunger among the children, which created a revolution in Tamil Nadu. The Chief Minister’s Breakfast Scheme which is being implemented now by Tamil Nadu Government is an extension of the Mid-day-meal scheme. The Chief Minister’s Breakfast Scheme is a pioneer scheme in India and a model for others to emulate.
A historical sequel
Sir PT Thiyagarayar, the then Mayor of Chennai Corporation passed a resolution on 16.09.1920 during the council meeting that Mid-day-meal scheme would be implemented in Corporation School at Thousand Lights, Chennai. Because of this initiative, number of students of Backward Classes had increased from 3075 to 3705 within a year. Later on, this scheme was expanded to some more schools. The program started by Justice Party in the year 1922 and expanded further in the year 1925. On 1st April 1947, it was announced that the Mid-day meal scheme would be abandoned due to financial crunch. But, the scheme continued in Harijan Welfare Department schools.
In 1957, the then Chief Minister K Kamaraj resumed the Mid-day meal scheme which provided noon meal to the students studying in primary schools. An amount of Rs10 lakh was allotted for implementing this scheme, not exceeding Rs18 per child per year.
In July 1982, the then Chief Minister MG Ramachandran introduced Nutritious Meal Programme which fed all school students throughout the year. He announced that the children in the age group of 2 to 5 years, who attend pre-school education and the children in the age group of 5 to 9 years who pursue primary education would be provided nutritious meal.
In 1989, the then Chief Minister M Karunanidhi announced that one egg would be provided along with nutritious meal once every two weeks. In 1998, one egg was provided weekly. On 15 July 2006, providing two eggs per week was implemented. From 15.07.2007 three eggs were provided per week. Bananas were given to the children who did not eat eggs and the scheme was implemented on 15.07.2008. From the year 2010, weekly five eggs are being given to the children.
A revolution in school education
The current Chief Minister's Breakfast Scheme is an extension of the above schemes. The Chief Minister leads by an example as quoted by the great poet Thiruvalluvar, “The power of those who perform penance is the power of enduring hunger. It is inferior to the power of those who remove the hunger of others.”
MK Stalin announced under Legislative Assembly Rule No.110 that children studying in primary schools will be provided with 4 nutritious breakfast on all school days. Further, he announced that the scheme would be first started in Chennai Corporation Schools and schools in remote villages and then gradually would be expanded to all areas. This scheme was implemented as promised by him.
Initially, the scheme was devised to provide nutritious breakfast to 1,14,095 students of classes 1 to 5 studying in 1,545 government schools and an amount of Rs 33.56 crore was allocated for this scheme. Now, the scheme has been extended to 31,000 government schools across the state benefitting 17 lakhs students.
Special attention was given as to how the scheme should be implemented and what types of food should be provided to the children. A list of foods to be served to the children for each day has been prepared. 50 grams of cereals like rava, wheat, rice, millets, 15 grams of dhal and locally available vegetables are being provided per child per day and 150 to 200 grams of cooked food and 60 grams of sambar with vegetables are being served.
It is advised that food should be cooked and served in a hygienic manner using quality food ingredients. It is also been insisted that the cooked food should be served to the student only after the school management committee tastes it. State, District and School level monitoring committees are formed to monitor the implementation of this scheme.
The Chief Minister's Breakfast Scheme was inaugurated by Chief Minister MK Stalin on 15th September 2022, on the occasion of 115th Birthday of former chief minister of Tamil Nadu CN Annadurai, at Municipal Adhimoolam Primary School, Simmakal, Madurai. The Chief Minister along with the students had breakfast wherein rava khichadi, rava kesari and vegetable sambar were served.
In the visitors book of the school, he also wrote a message saying, "Congratulations on the success of the Chief Minister's Breakfast scheme which has started today in our Dravidian Model Government". Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Minister said, "The children of Tamil Nadu should not be suffer hunger and that is why this scheme has been started immediately.”
A scheme with great vision
The Chief Minister’s Breakfast Scheme primarily ensures that students come to school without hunger. Next, it helps increase student’s attendance and retention. Also, experts mention many indirect benefits of this breakfast scheme. The aim of the scheme is to reduce hunger and prevent malnutrition, achieve average height in children, prevent underweight in adolescents, prevent anemia and vitamin B12 deficiency. The importance of this scheme can be seen from the fact that malnourished are the first victims of diseases. This breakfast scheme should also be seen as a part of the various welfare programmes of the Tamil Nadu Government with lofty goal of building a healthy future society. Apart from all these, the primary objective is to reduce the workload of working mothers. It is noteworthy that the health of the children improves and the mental health of the family also improves.
The Chief Minister's Breakfast Scheme is the foundation for a prosperous future. Through this scheme, the learning ability of the students will be improved, health will be strengthened, a disease-free healthy society will be created. If we look at closely, we can see that this scheme has a social justice underpinning. The epic Manimekalai says that “They who give nourishment to living beings, in this world, give precious life itself.”
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