How back to school and mid-day meals are related in a child’s life?

Education is important for a child but food more vital!

Children education is a very aspect in the progress of the immediate society, and the country at large. But, an estimated 8.4 crore children in India do not attend school. It has also been reported that India is one among the top five nations with the highest number of out-of-school children aged 6-11 years. In order to tackle this situation and make India ready to embrace the title of being the youngest nation by 2020 in terms of working age populace, the Government along with many NGOs are striving to ensure education for all. But, the matter of the fact is, to achieve 100% literacy, we need to first address the issue of hunger because it is this very factor that pushes away children from schools to work fields.

In an endeavour to counter the critical issue of hunger, the Government initiated the Mid-Day Meal Scheme, a programme that provides free school lunch to children studying in Government schools and Government-aided schools. Over the years, this scheme has gained momentum and has been successful in incentivising parents to send their children to school with the hope that children will at least receive a plate full of meal per day. The mid-day meals have potentially increased enrolment rate, attendance rate, while also countering classroom hunger and improving health and concentration levels among children.

School + Mid-day meals = Empowered children

Several NGOs have partnered with the Government to implement the Mid-Day Meal Scheme. These NGOs are able to bring about a drastic and sustainable change right from the grass root level of the society. The Akshaya Patra Foundation is one of the pioneer mid-day meal NGOs with a remarkable history of 18 years in service of children. Each year this NGO in India runs a ‘Back to school’ campaign with the objective to bring millions of its beneficiaries back to school for a new academic year. This year Akshaya Patra is campaigning to support continuous schooling of more than 1.76 million children.

The real worth of being able to attend school is understood only by those children who has to overcome several challenges each day just so that they their place of learning. The mid-day meals and the lessons they receive nourishes and nurtures them making them confident of achieving their goals in life. Each of Akshaya Patra beneficiaries have their unique dreams and this motivates the Foundation to bring more and more children under the ambit of the school meal programme.

Today, you are resourceful and moving ahead in life and career, a big share of it goes to the education you received. Now, it’s time to empower the future generation. Come forward generously and actively is support of the ‘Back to School’ campaign. Your action will promote children education by ensuring their mid-day meals for the entire school year. Act now!

How Akshaya Patra’s mid-day meal impact education in India

Mid-day meal impact

Until our stomach is full, the mind is pre-occupied with the thought of food – it is a fact! So, do you think it is possible for young children to concentrate in the classroom and focus on school activities when their stomachs are growling with hunger?

Aside from being an important aspect in the growth and development of children, food is also a prerequisite for effective education. And, that’s where the Mid-Day Meal Scheme come into the picture. The Mid-Day Meal Scheme is an initiative of Government of India to provide cooked meals to the children of government schools and government-aided schools. Over the years, this Scheme has become a significant pillar and a prime influence on the progress of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan. Several NGOs have partnered with the government to implement this Scheme across the country, and one such NGO is The Akshaya Patra Foundation. This NGO has been providing school midday meal since 2000. Presently, it serves mid-day meals to more than 1.7 million children in 14,173 schools of 36 locations in 12 states of India.

In most instances, it has been observed that school meal acts as an incentive for families of not-so-privileged backgrounds. Parents send their children to school with the hope that the young members will at least get one proper meal for the day. This provides an opportunity to the children to attend school thereby benefitting them doubly with nutritious food and rightful education. Thus, as part of self-assessment, Akshaya Patra periodically conducts third-party studies to understand the impact and opportunities of the mid-day meal programme. The summary of many such impact studies indicate:

  • There has been an increase in enrolment of children
  • Regularity and attendance among students is on the rise
  • Student drop-out rate has decreased
  • There has been a significant improvement in the health of children
  • The level of concentration among children has improved
  • There is an enhanced sense of social equity and socialisation among children

As a mid-day meal NGO, Akshaya Patra understands the need to remain transparent about its operations and developments with the government and civil society. Thus, it annually publishes the NGO Annual Report containing audited financial statements, organisational highlights, achievements, plans, and goals along with the impact it has had on the beneficiaries.

Interestingly, Akshaya Patra implements the mid-day meal programme with the vision that ‘No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger’. This itself indicates that the NGO strives to provide nutritious school midday meals to children in order to support their education. Step in to support the efforts of this mid-day meal NGO. Choose to donate for education in India through Akshaya Patra. This will not only support the education of children but will also contribute to their healthy growth and development. So, join hands with Akshaya Patra and provide ‘unlimited food for education’.

National Education Day: There’s a need to strengthen educational institutions

National Education Day

The National Education Day, the annual observance to commemorate the birth anniversary of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the first education minister of independent India. It is the day commemorated to strengthen the educational institutions in the country and raise the quality of education.

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad served from August 15, 1947 to February 2, 1958. He laid foundations of the education system after the country became independent. He was instrumental in establishing national education system wherein free and compulsory education, until the age of 14, was introduced. An institution like Indian Institutes of Technology was also brought in under his guidance in the year 1951. He introduced University Grants Commission in 1953. His contribution in the development of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and the Faculty of Technology of the Delhi University has been phenomenal. He gave importance to adult literacy.

The late South African President and anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela said: ‘‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’’ Mandela hit the nail on the head in a way that the informed individuals understand their rights and duties.

Role of NGOs is crucial in ensuring that no one is left out of the education system. The Akshaya Patra Foundation has been playing a major role in ensuring that children stay in school and hence, it today reaches over 1.6 million children across the country.

The objective of celebrating the National Education Day should be to strengthen our educational institutions and raise the quality of education. It should be an occasion to remember Maulana Abul Kalam Azad’s contribution in laying the foundations of the education system in Independent India as well as to evaluate performance in this field. This would go a long way in advancing India as a knowledge economy and society.

It’s also an occasion to focus on finding means to educate the people left out of the system for various reasons. Any help extended towards achieving this, through NGOs, for instance, are considered tax deductible donations.

For strong institutions and a robust education system, we not only need the adequate infrastructure, but also need good teachers who not only teach what’s prescribed in the syllabus, but are in fact, inspiring and turn the students thinking individuals.

For achieving this, the system needs to ensure that there is the right type of training given to teachers. While Akshaya Patra ensures children attend school every day by incentivising them with food, charity donations from individuals can ensure that this can be minimised.

Let’s bring children #BackToSchool

Back to school 1

Hello May! Akshaya Patra, a children’s charity, welcomes a new month with a topic we all love visiting, something that has stolen space in hearts and something that all the children should have access to: School! As the month goes by, we will talk about bringing children back to school for the next academic year. Meanwhile, you can meet our beneficiaries from around the country.

Sahil from Nagpur, Lakshmi from Hubballi and Pawan from Mysuru are children with life changing aspirations. These children are different from the ordinary because they know that education is as vital as food. They understand that despite all the rules, discipline and a lot of other school things that they may not like a lot, they are being nourished in a growing environment of learning.

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Sahil wishes to be a pilot in the Indian Air Force. This 14-year-old wants to fight for his country and make people proud. He vividly recalls history about freedom fighter Veer Savarkar who was imprisoned in Cellular Jail in Port Blair. He wishes to fly to Port Blair someday so he could re-visit the history he has learned in school. Such is the impact of education on children. Sahil comes to school regularly because a generous donor decided to sponsor the child. That’s precisely what inspires all of us at Akshaya Patra as we prepare for another school year soon. Children like Sahil, Lakshmi and Pawan are now able to truly learn at their schools because they are provided with mid-day meals in the school premises.

We wish to expand our reach and take mid-day meals to more places across India. We often urge our donors to sponsor a child so that more and more children are encouraged to study and go to schools. With a very small contribution alone, you are able to transform the life of children and take them to the light of education.

There are several other ways that you can extend your help. It could be sponsoring a kitchen for a year, donating a vehicle or sponsoring a school.  You could also sponsor a child’s meals for an entire year! Donate today to feed the hungry!

Akshaya Patra – Blazing a trail in Uttar Pradesh to eradicate hunger

One school meal a day has the power to fuel the educational pursuits of India’s children. It eliminates classroom hunger, keeps them in school and helps them concentrate better. The Akshaya Patra Foundation, an NGO in Uttar Pradesh (U.P.), helps the cause of ‘food for education’ through its Mid-Day Meal Programme. It works in partnership with State and Central governments in India and feeds its nutritious mid-day meals to over 1.6 million school children in 11 states across India. These meals are cooked in state-of-the-art ISO-certified centralised kitchens that strictly adhere to hygiene standards.

Reach in UP

The Foundation is now taking a big leap in expanding its footprint throughout the country, especially in U.P. In December 2016, as an NGO in Uttar Pradesh, Akshaya Patra laid major expansion plans in the state. The state will witness the launch of 11 new kitchens in the districts of Varanasi, Ghaziabad, Agra, Allahabad, Kanpur, Etawah, Kannauj, Ambedkar Nagar, Azamgarh, Rampur and Ballia. The groundbreaking ceremony for the same was performed by Akhilesh Yadav, former Chief Minister of U.P, at Lok Bhavan, New Secretariat, Lucknow, on December 26, 2016. With the addition of these new kitchens, the Foundation’s reach will expand to 13 lakh beneficiaries in U.P. from 2,11,680 children it is presently feeding, benefitting 10,88,320 more children, starting the next academic year.

Taking its mid-day meals in Uttar Pradesh to a larger number of children will bring Akshaya Patra closer to its vision of ensuring that no child is deprived of education due to hunger. To feed millions more children in India and aid their quest for education via a nutritious school lunch, the Foundation needs the support of all the individuals committed to eradicating classroom hunger. Join Akshaya Patra in nourishing the health and furthering the education of India’s future by making a charity donation towards it.

What is Education? From a Child’s Perspective

Everyone has a right to knock the door to their destiny, to which, undernourishment, money, and lack of resources should never be a hindrance. Education is a journey we all live through. We cannot go through life and learn nothing. We as kids start to initially learn at our homes, from our family and from childhood friends. From trials and observations, we learn that pressing a switch downwards turns on the light. But formal education in school helps us understand what actually makes the light or device turn on. There’s no child who doesn’t have a dream of growing up and becoming a successful person. Education for children is a chance to pursue their dreams of becoming a doctor, teacher, scientist, musician or anything alike.

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All kids admire going to school and learning how to read and write, but not all kids can afford going to school. If you look at the list of NGOs in Bangalore, you will note that Akshaya Patra supports millions of children. The organisation provides healthy mid-day meals in schools and hence, feed the hungry to give them a chance to lead a better life. So, let us donate for education in India and support this noble mission of Zero Hunger and Quality Education.

A chance to repay their parents’ hardwork

At a very young age, children start to realize the fact that their parents work very hard and sacrifice a lot to provide them all the comfort and grant them all their wishes. They see education as a chance to repay these efforts with good grades and making their parents proud. If we help these kids by providing them a chance to go to school, they can not only prove themselves as harbingers of hope but also provide better living conditions to their parents when they grow up as independent individuals.

A chance to make themselves capable of helping others

Only he who wears knows where exactly the shoe pinches. Students who are deprived of daily meals and education very well know how effective mid-day meal benefits are. They also know how it feels to be plunged into a situation they cannot control. Children with such thoughts, see education as an opportunity to become capable of helping others first and themselves being benefitted later. We ought to appreciate this spirit and provide food for the education of these children who even have to go to bed hungry at times. There’s nothing more satisfying than feeding the hungry.

A chance to create their identity in this whole wide world

Education has different meanings and forms for different children. For some, it is language, science or mathematics while for some it is music, dance or art. Children are always very passionate about chasing their dreams and if provided with all the opportunities, they can excel at their interests. They wish to make their parents proud by doing something extraordinary for themselves, their families, society and their country. If such determined kids do not get a chance to get an education, in spite of our capabilities to help, what sense does our education make?

We ought to come forward and donate for education in India. Let the children continue having faith in humanity and kindness. Sponsor a child today and win tax exemption in India!

The Different Techniques to Ensure Children Enjoy School

Children change their minds more quickly than grown-ups. One moment, they have an urge to play, another moment, they want to eat something specific. What’s the key to keep them motivated for school without repelling them from certain subjects? At Akshaya Patra, an NGO in India, we have first-hand experience of coping with this during the Mid-day Meal Programme run in schools in collaboration with the government.  Here’s what we have tried and tested over the years. We are happy to share this little piece of wisdom with parents who often struggle to send their kids to school.

Fun enforcement or no enforcement

Make sure that you learn to bite your tongue when children refrain from going to school. While it’s good to hear their reasons, you must also be able to tell when a child is only playing you. Count the things your child loves about school. It could be friends or a games period or a drawing class. If you really know what your kid is interested in, you will know what to say when sending them off to school. For instance, reward your children when they agree to go to school without tantrums. At Akshaya Patra, we encourage children to come to school so they have nutritious meals. Our sponsors who often donate for education in India find it fascinating how our volunteers and staff keep the children always excited for mid-day meals in schools.

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Appreciation

Children have a forgiving heart and so they won’t hold a grudge that you sent them to school without their will. Most likely, they will not even remember it. So make sure you develop a habit of praising your child for any big or small achievement in class. Always be a proud parent and get your kids interested in extra-curricular activities.

Plan sumptuous lunch

We have seen mothers who would cook sumptuous and nutritious lunch as a motivating factor for the children to eat during school. Akshaya Patra’s Mid-day Meal Programme in schools ensures that the lunch served is full of vegetables, proteins, dairy, grains, oils and nutrients. Just the whole excitement of opening the lunch box during school often gets children excited about school.

Assure help in homework

Often children find school dreary and a burden due to the homework. They often feel overwhelmed and scared. Always be the parent who makes homework a team activity. Ensure you are always around to guide, instruct and help the child as he or she sits down for homework. That would assure the child of an ever-present help and would motivate them to look forward to school.

Akshaya Patra is an NGO in India that has been running Mid-Day Meals Programme in schools since 2000. One of our biggest lessons during this programme over the years has been that children need motivation at every step in their lives. As for the Mid-Day Meal Programme, the organisation is working towards building a sustainable network of kitchens to reach five million children by 2020. If you are someone who is considering donating for education in India, you are welcome to join our mission.