Free meals to students in Batticaloa suspended

[TamilNet, Sunday, 06 March 2011, 14:06 GMT]
School principals and education department officials have expressed serious concern over the suspension of issue of free meals to students in schools in four educational zones in the Batticaloa district since December 2010 without any prior notice. They fear that this would lead to increase of malnutrition among student population.

The free meals programme initiated by the WFP in 2005 had been implemented for students from Year 1 to Year 5 below the poverty line in most difficult areas affected by the conflict.

The W.F.P. supplied raw rice, dhal, potatoes, dried fish, cooking oil, wheat floor etc and at the rate of Rs 2.00 per pupil for the purchase of serials.

These expenses were met by the principals of the respective schools.

During the last four months no payments for the meals were made and principals have become unable to financially support the program.

These expenses in turn were reimbursed by the W.F.P through the Zonal Education office. However, payment in respect of September, October, November, December 2010 has so far not been paid, the principals say.

Attendance has also dropped considerably in many schools and the nutritional conditions of the students too, it is observed, in a low standard.

Recently published reports based on the studies carried out by the WFP, UNICEF and the UN Health Services Division show that 53% of the children below five years of age are suffering from malnutrition.


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