Featured image courtesy Amalini De Sayrah

It’s 10:30 am at the Social Institute for the Development of Plantation Sector (SIDPS) pre-school on the Strathspey estate in Maskeliya.

The children, most of them around five years old, queue up – boys first, then girls. The pre-school doesn’t have a toilet, as it’s located next to a chemical store room. Because of this, the Government didn’t give the clearance needed. They have to make do with an open sewer outside.

Then they open up their lunch-boxes. According to the mid-day meal programme initiated by the Ministry of Education in 2010, these children are supposed to be provided with food and a glass of milk. But this school hasn’t received funds for the mid-day meal for over a year now – a 2015 World Bank report flagged the need for a National School Feeding Policy which could have helped avoid this.

But the teachers point out two students – one of them has roti and a banana for lunch, while another has instant noodles. Both these contravene the recommended nutrition plan tacked up on the school wall.

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Roti and Rice