City anchor: In drought-hit areas, mid-day meals to keep kids in school

In a move to ensure children living in drought-hit areas don't drop out of school and migrate to cities, the state education department has decided to continue mid-day meal scheme even during vacations.

"We have seen that in times of drought, children are made to work in fields during vacations. When school reopens, these students do not return, but continue to work. So the drop- out rates increase during such times," said Mahavir Mane, director of Primary Education. "So we decided to continue midday meals even during the vacation in the drought-hit areas," added Mane.

Children from Classes I to VIII are provided with afternoon meals everyday except for Sundays on their school campus even during the holidays. "This way, children will remain connected to school even during vacation. Since these kids get nutritious food at least once a day, parents will also tend to send their kids to school. This will help check drop-out rates to a great extent," said Mane.

"I will getting the official figures of drop-outs from various regions. A collective summary of figures as well as a gender-wise figure will be available only after studying all the data," he added.

As per official records, Maharashtra has the total of around one lakh primary and secondary schools, run by local self-governing bodies and private managements. Of these, 32,573 are private, including 20,455 aided and 12,018 unaided schools.

Datta Surve, Gram Panchayat member from Solapur's Modnimb village, also agreed with Mane when he opined that introduction of mid-day meals during vacations will definitely help students stay connected to the school and prevent migration. "The government has introduced several measures in the villages to help people make a living. This scheme is good as it helps students get a full meal a day and encourages parents to send their children to school," said Surve.

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