The nation has seen many fold developments in both public and private sector undertakings. Yet, there is lot to achieve when it comes to 100% literacy rate. Recent surveys report of having approximately 8.1 million out-of-school children.
This is a challenging figure but it is not impossible to achieve it with proper channelizing. In this context, the Right to Education comes as a support. The Right to Education is a significant International Act. It is a Fundamental Right that entitles an individual to compulsory education between the age group of 6 to 14 years. It also indicates that if required appropriate and necessary steps should be taken to make this education available to all children primarily in this age group.
Akshaya Patra beneficiary mid day school meal. This Act was passed in India as Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act in the year 2009. It was a historic moment as the passing of this Act guaranteed every child in India, the right to elementary education. In recent past, the educational sector in India has seen many significant developments, but the task of complete implementation of RTE is yet to be achieved.
There are many reasons for millions of children to be to of school during their formative years. To mention the most prominent ones are, inaccessibility, poverty, hunger, gender and social inequality. To tackle these crisis many organization across all sectors including Non-Governmental Organizations have pulled up their socks. Among them The Akshaya Patra Foundation is one that is working towards its vision of “No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger”.
Taking the first step in June 2000, Akshaya Patra started the mid-day meal programme in Bangalore by feeding 1500 children in 5 schools. Today, it is the world’s largest NGO run mid-day meal programme, serving freshly cooked, healthy and nutritious meals to 1.3 million school children on all school working days. Currently operating in 20 locations across 9 states of India, it aims at feeding 5 million children by 2020. August 2012 saw the celebration of serving the billionth meal, a commendable and noteworthy achievement of Akshaya Patra in the stride towards achieving its vision and mission.
Akshaya Patra is in a constant thrive to reach out to more and more schools, so that many more children can be benefited by the mid-day meal programme. It implements quality controls and is continuously working towards innovating their technology and processes to make nutritious, hygienic and delicious food on an ever-expanding scale. We are aware that the more food we make, the more dreams we can feed. In many instances, the mid-day meal programme works as a powerful incentive too, for parents to send and keep their children in school.
This in turn enables the children to receive formal education for the entire academic year and beyond. Apart from improved nutritional status of students, the mid-day meal acts as a strong reason for them to continue schooling, thereby resulting in decreased rate of school drop-out, increased enrollment and attendance in schools, and better attention span impacting positively to academic progress of the children.
Thus, it is evident that the mid-day meal programme works doubly in countering the issues of hunger and illiteracy. Akshaya Patra applauds all such programmes and efforts that act as a support to the thorough implementation of Right to Education.