The National Education Policy (NEP), approved by the Union government on Wednesday, has proposed to bring in provisions for serving breakfast to elementary school students, apart from the mid-day meals which are already served.
It has also laid stress on taking care of children’s health, including their mental health, recommending deployment of “well-trained” social workers and counsellors in schools.
The new education policy has proposed to involve community in the schooling system to address the issues pertaining to students’ nutrition and health, recommending expansion of the mid-day meal scheme to include provisions for breakfast in schools.
“Research shows that the morning hours after a nutritious breakfast can be particularly productive for the study of cognitively more demanding subjects and hence these hours may be leveraged by providing a simple but energizing breakfast in addition to mid-day meals.” the NEP stipulates.
The policy, excerpts of which were released by the government after Union cabinet’s nod, has noted that children are unable to learn optimally when they are undernourished or unwell.
“Hence, the nutrition and health (including mental health) of children will be addressed through healthy meals and the introduction of well-trained social workers, counsellors, and community involvement into the schooling system,” it says.
At least 11.59 crore elementary school students are beneficiaries under the mid-day meal scheme of the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry, while nearly 26 lakh cook-cum helpers are employed for the same.
To implement the NEP recommendation, the government will have to significantly increase the funds for mid-day meals to add provisions for breakfast in the scheme.
The draft National Education Policy, submitted by K Kasturirangan Committee earlier this year, had projected that an additional expenditure of 1.3% of total expenditure of the government will be required to add provisions for breakfast in mid-day meals.
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