Life can be challenging when you are a girl child in India. Previously bound by social custom, girl children in India were either not provided with education at all, forced to drop out of school and help at home or married young to ease the financial burden on the family. But today that picture is slowly and undeniably changing.
By adopting the vision that ‘no child in India shall be deprived of an education because of hunger,’ The Akshaya Patra Foundation effectively found a vehicle to bring the country’s daughters under the umbrella of government education.
With the help of the state government, the foundation ensures that every day, each student shall be served a hot, nutritious and freshly cooked mid-day meal, suddenly making getting an education an exciting prospect for both parents and their children.
Young Rabeena who studies in D.K.Z.P, Modern Higher Primary School, Mangalore works hard at getting her education, studying a couple of hours every day. Her mother who studied only till the fifth grade is adamant that both her children will complete their education. Rabeena’s mother says, “The best part of the mid-day meal is that the menu has a variety of dishes and every day the children get something different to eat. The food is nutritious and is provided not only to the primary classes but also to the higher grades.”
For Sarita, a student of the Government High School, Makali, Bangalore North District, these mid-day meals have changed her life. Now a grade ten student, she has been a beneficiary of the Akshaya Patra mid-day meal programme since the first grade. She expresses her pleasure over the programme saying, “I have been a beneficiary of the Akshaya Patra meal since I was a little girl and still love to eat it every day. Like many of my friends and classmates, I too depend on this meal to get through the day.”
For students like Rabeena and Sarita who have their whole lives ahead of them, The Akshaya Patra mid-day meal programme has shone a beacon of hope on their future. The 2011 census, which indicated a 2001-2011 nationwide decadal literacy growth of 9.2 per cent shows us that we are getting there. In 2011, the literacy rates of age seven and above was 82.14 per cent for men and 65.46 per cent for women.
While progress may be slow, it is still heartening to know that at the end of it all, where there is a will, there is most certainly, a way.