Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) play a crucial role in developing countries through their works in community development and contribution to achieve sustainable goals of the nations. In India, where hunger and illiteracy are two of the major challenges hindering many children’s ability to learn and grow, NGOs form Public-Private Partnership with the Central and State Governments to counter these obstacles.
On 15th August 1995, the National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education (NP-NSPE) was launched as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme to eliminate classroom hunger and increase enrolment, retention, and attendance. Since then, the Mid-Day Meal Programme has been implemented nationwide to provide wholesome, nutritious meals for children studying in Government and Government-aided schools.
The implementation of the Mid-Day Meal Programme relies a lot on the role of Indian charity like The Akshaya Patra Foundation. The role of an NGO in this programme is to support the Government in the expansion of the scheme in order to reach out to more children, thereby reaching the goals of eliminating classroom hunger and achieving equal education for all children in India.
To establish this partnership, an NGO is selected based on its transparency and “of proven integrity” by the Government. Chosen NGOs must also have a set-up kitchen, operate daily meal preparation, and sustain themselves financially. These NGOs are supported by the Government by the way of subsidies and grants to implement their programmes. This solution allows community engagement and has greatly improved the implementation of the Central Mid-Day Meal Scheme: all layers of society are involved, more than 120 million children are reached out, and the scale of the programme has expanded to over 1,265,000 schools and centres.
“No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger” – The Akshaya Patra Foundation
The Akshaya Patra Foundation started feeding children in June 2000 by feeding 1,500 children in five Government schools in Bengaluru, Karnataka with one wholesome, nutritious mid-day meal per day, every school day. In the past 18+ years, the organisation has expanded its Mid-Day Meal Programme to 1.76 million children in 15,024 Government and Government-aided schools. Up till date, Akshaya Patra is the world’s largest NGO-run school meal programme that has cumulatively provided over 3 billion meals to children and is working towards its mission to feed 5 million children by 2025.