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Literacy – A Tool to Word the Roadmap for Development

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International Literacy Day, observed on September 8 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), commemorates its 50-year anniversary in 2016. This day recognises the importance of literacy and promotes it through engagement on national and international levels. It is being celebrated under the banner ‘Reading the Past, Writing the Future’ this year.

According to the 2011 census, India’s literacy rate was 74.04% (82 .14% among males and 65.46% among females). The nation has made strides in literacy rate, with active efforts from the Government and organisations like The Akshaya Patra Foundation through its initiatives like food for education, but there is still a long way to go. The cause of literacy must certainly be on the top of the agenda for social improvement, as high rates of literacy benefit the individual and society in numerous ways. Here are some of them:

Brighter career prospects
Being able to read and write enhances the promise of a brighter future and financial security. Literacy fuels the pursuit of education, which is a prerequisite if one has to make a mark in society and bring about a revolution.

Boosts confidence and creates better self-image 
The ability to read and write instills confidence in people. The very act of being able to understand the written word and express oneself in writing is empowering, both socially and psychologically.

Increases social and political awareness  
Literacy is one of the key cornerstones of a society that is conscious of its strengths and limitations and mindful of important happenings in the nation and the world. This enhances the public sense of social responsibility, powered by greater awareness.

Helps in discovering the joy of books, new worlds and new ideas 
Perhaps the most magical part about being able to read and write is the pleasure of being able to become lost in books. Discovering new worlds, ideas, stories and philosophies expands one’s worldview and makes them appreciate the staggering diversity of thought and culture in the world.

A keystone to nation-building and economic progress 
Literate, well-educated adults make it possible for a country to reach the summit of economic progress. This kind of development is inclusive, with equal growth opportunities for people from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Literacy can also help combat gender inequality – a major concern that needs to be addressed throughout the world.

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Food and Education

Things You Must Know About Akshaya Patra

Things about Akshaya Patra

India is on the roadway to success and to make this journey smooth and inclusive, it is essential that the children of this nation do not miss out on education due to hunger. The Akshaya Patra Foundation (TAPF) helps this cause by providing wholesome, nutritious mid-day meals to school children across India. Read on to find out how this illustrious, award-winning organisation does it!

Origins and areas of work

  • The seed of TAPF philosophy was planted on a hot summer day in Mayapur, West Bengal when A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada saw children fighting with street dogs over scraps of food.
  • Srila Prabhupada took a solemn vow that no one within 10 miles of his centre would go hungry. Inspired by this, Akshaya Patra was born in June 2000 in Bangalore, Karnataka.
  • The organisation provides mid-day meals to 1.58 million children in 11,360 Government schools across India.
  • Its philosophy is to provide wholesome, nutritious food to schoolchildren and help keep them in school since many children in India discontinue school due to financial difficulties and malnutrition among them too is a common concern.
  • The organisation works on a Public-Private Partnership model, with state and central governments, with centralised and decentralised kitchens along with a small kitchen in Chennai that feeds children of a private school.
  • Other feeding initiatives of Akshaya Patra include anganwadi feeding, feeding expecting and lactating mothers, feeding in special schools, subsidised lunch for the economically backward, feeding runaway children, the homeless and residents at old-age homes, and disaster relief.
  • Akshaya Patra undertakes social initiatives like after-class tuitions, life skills programme, community health camps, scholarship programmes and health check-up camps.

Expansion

  • Back when it was founded in 2000, the Foundation served 1,500 children in five schools in Bangalore.
  • By 2004, Akshaya Patra was present in three Indian states – Karnataka, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
  • It now has a presence in 10 states, with 26 kitchens at 25 locations.
  • The kitchens in Karnataka are present at HK Hill and Vasanthapura in Bengaluru, Hubballi, Mangaluru, Mysuru and Ballari.
  • Akshaya Patra’s Rajasthan kitchens are presently located at Jaipur, Baran, Nathdwara and Jodhpur.
  • The Uttar Pradesh kitchens are operational at Vrindavan and Lucknow.
  • In 2006, the Foundation established itself in Odisha. It now feeds children in Puri, Nayagarh, Rourkela and Bhubaneswar.
  • In 2007, it started feeding children in Gujarat. Its operational presence in the state is at Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Surat.
  • In 2008, Akshaya Patra inaugurated kitchens in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. It currently has kitchens at Visakhapatnam, Mangalagiri and Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh, and at Hyderabad in Telangana.
  • In 2009, the Bhilai kitchen in Chhattisgarh was launched.
  • In 2010, Assam had an Akshaya Patra kitchen of its own at Guwahati.
  • In 2011, Akshaya Patra set up a small kitchen at Chennai in Tamil Nadu to feed the children of a single private school.

Kitchens and its processes

  • The centralised kitchen template is adopted at urban and semi-urban locations.
  • Centralised kitchens have the capacity to produce up to a whopping one million meals. They are mechanised cooking units, where the cooking process requires minimal human intervention.
  • Areas that are difficult to access by road aren’t conducive to the construction of centralised kitchens and hence use the decentralised kitchen format.
  • The decentralised units are operated by Women Self Help Groups (SHGs), supervised by the Foundation’s kitchen process and operations module.
  • The decentralised units can cook meals for one to two schools in the area.
  • Hygiene is of paramount importance at the Akshaya Patra kitchens at every stage. Only quality suppliers are associated with for the programme, using Supplier Quality Management Systems (SQMS).
  • The First In First Out method ensures that the organisation makes effective use of perishable items.
  • Akshaya Patra is very particular about its safety protocol, so the staff makes sure to wear face masks, gloves, hair caps, gum boots and other protective gear.
  • Charts placed around the kitchen also encourage people to take showers daily and wash hands frequently, among others.
  • Improvement measures like Kaizen, Six Sigma and Continual Improvement projects are implemented after receiving feedback from schools about the quality of food.

Case Studies

  • The Akshaya Patra Foundation has been the subject of numerous studies for its exemplary work.
  • The most notable is the Harvard Business School case study featuring the organisation in 2007.
  • The Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) Corporate Social Responsibility project for 2012-2013, conducted by National Corporate Social Responsibility Hub, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, was an impact assessment study report featuring Akshaya Patra.
  • Nielsen conducted an impact assessment study in 2010 to gauge the effect of TAPF mid-day meal programme in enhancing school enrolment, attendance, classroom performance and nutritional status of the students.
  • In 2012, Manipal University released a report on measuring the impact of the mid-day meal on child growth.

Awards and Recognitions

  • Akshaya Patra has been recognised by numerous national and international organisations and prominent world leaders for its impressive work.
  • The Foundation received the Nikkei Asia Prize 2016 for noteworthy achievements in the Economic and Business Innovation category.
  • TAPF was felicitated by CNN-News18 and Infosys, as part of its Innovating For A Better Tomorrow show, for positively impacting over a million Indian lives.
  • The World Economic Forum invited Akshaya Patra at The Project Hunger in Africa to share its experiences.
  • Barack Obama, President of The United States of America, sent a letter of appreciation to The Akshaya Patra Foundation, thanking it for its efforts.
  • Akshaya Patra was chosen as a recipient organisation for The Mickey Leland International Hunger Fellows Programme. This programme pairs upcoming leaders with effective organisations that address the primary causes of hunger across the world.
  • In 2009, Akshaya Patra entered the Limca Book of Records for running the largest mid-day meal programme in the world.
  • Akshaya Patra was also included in the India Book of Records for operating the largest school meal programme.
  • Giving Every Dream A Chance, a video by Akshaya Patra, received the Platinum award at the AVA Digital Awards 2016 in the Online Video category.
  • At the League of American Communications Professionals LLC (LACP) 2014/15 Vision Awards, Akshaya Patra was awarded Gold in the Annual Reports Competition in the Non-Profits category.
  • The ABP News Positive Award 2015 was awarded to Akshaya Patra for being a symbol of positive change in society.
  • The Foundation won the Best NGO award at Mother Teresa Awards 2014.
  • At the ARC Awards 2015, the biggest international competition honouring outstanding achievements in annual reports, Akshaya Patra received the Silver for its Annual Report 2013-2014, titled The Fab Five Superheroes, under the Foundation category of Non-Traditional Annual Reports.
  • TAPF also received the Grand Award Winner position for the Best of International segment at the ARC Awards 2015.
  • TAPF’s Annual Report 2013-2014 received the Platinum award at the 2015 Hermes Creative Awards.
  • Akshaya Patra scored a double victory at the Summit Creative Awards 2015, where its film – The Possibilities – received Gold, and its Annual Report 2013-2015 received Silver.
  • Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) awarded the 2014 Asian MAKE (Most Admired Knowledge Enterprise) award to the Foundation.
  • At the Public Relations Council of India (PRCI) Collateral Awards, 2016, Akshaya Patra won big, with four awards – a Gold, a Silver and two Bronzes in different categories.
  • PRCI also conferred the Chanakya award upon Akshaya Patra for NGO of the year 2015.
  • The Quality Mark Award For Achievement and Excellence 2015 in the NGO category was awarded to Akshaya Patra.
  • At the 21st Annual Communicator Awards, TAPF received the Award For Excellence in the Print not-for-profit category for its Annual Report 2013-2014 and for its film The Possibilities in the Video not-for-profit category.
  • The Foundation is a five-time winner of the South Asian Federation of Accountants (SAFA) Awards.
  • Akshaya Patra’s Annual Report 2012-2013 won the Gold at 44th Creativity International Awards.

Prominent people who have visited the kitchens

  • The Akshay Patra kitchens have been visited by illustrious people from India and abroad. These include former Presidents of nations, spiritual leaders and luminaries from the corporate, entertainment, technology and other fields.
  • Former Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam, Nobel Peace Prize-winning Bangladeshi social entrepreneur Mohammed Yunus, former United States President Bill Clinton, and His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet have all graced Akshaya Patra’s kitchens.

Strategic partnerships

  • Akshaya Patra has forged a successful strategic partnership with the prominent Indian philanthropic organisation Jamsetji Tata Trust.
  • The Foundation has also entered collaborations with State governments in India and with companies like Kellogg’s, Microsoft, Monsanto, GE Healthcare, Toms, Huawei and a lot of other prominent organisations.

Giving Every Dream a Chance

  • In 2015, Akshaya Patra made the dreams of three schoolchildren come true by arranging a month-long mentorship programme for them.
  • Shivu, a budding astronomer, was mentored by Preethi Krishnamurthy, Senior Research Fellow doing her PhD in Astrophysics, who revealed secrets of the stars to him.
  • Shekar, an aspiring chef, was trained by Chef Ramasamy Selvaraju of Vivanta By Taj to whip up delicacies.
  • Manjula, under the guidance of Zulfia Shaikh, founder / director – Bengaluru School of Speech and Drama, learnt to bring forth her inner actress.

And that’s a wrap!

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