CHENNAI: Marking the completion of a year in office, Chief Minister MK Stalin on Saturday announced in the Assembly five new schemes including breakfast for state-run school children and underscored the achievements so far while the main opposition AIADMK boycotted the proceedings.
“Students in urban and rural areas start school early and in most cases end up missing their morning meal. Their poor financial condition is another reason. Taking these into consideration, the scheme for providing free breakfast has been devised. It will initially be given to students of classes 1-5 in all government schools in a few corporations, municipalities and remote villages through local bodies and will later be expanded across the State,” Stalin said in the Assembly.
He announced four more major schemes - to improve the nutrition of children below 6, establishing schools of excellence on the lines of the Delhi government, setting up urban health centres and expanding ‘CM in your constituency’ scheme to all the 234 constituencies.
Explaining the nutrition scheme, Stalin said they decided to implement it after a survey found majority of children within the age bracket of 6 malnourished in TN.
The CM further said that when he visited Delhi’s model schools run by the State government, he had announced similar schools to be established in Tamil Nadu. Hence, 25 corporation and government institutions will be upgraded into schools of excellence by improving infrastructure. Learning of importance will get a boost in which facilities of art, literature, music, dance, practical sciences, games, art and craft will be embedded.
The scheme will be implemented at the cost of Rs 150 crore, in the first phase.
With the number of people visiting government hospitals in urban areas having increased, 708 urban health centres will be set up in 21 corporations and 63 municipalities at the cost of Rs 180.45 crore. A doctor, a nurse, a pharmacist and an assistant will be recruited.
The ‘CM in your constituency’ scheme will be expanded across all the 234 constituencies in which MLAs have had to submit top 10 long pending works to the Collectors.
Works which are not covered under any of the schemes will also be given priority. This will be under the direct supervision of Stalin and Rs 1,000 crore would be allotted this year for it.
Breakfast on menu, school timings to change?
With Chief Minister MK Stalin announcing the free breakfast scheme on Saturday, stakeholders including parents and officials are pondering if there will be a change in school timings from the upcoming academic year 2022-23.
Post the ongoing final examination, the students in the State are set to enter the summer holidays by May end. And according to official sources, the schools are likely to reopen in June. Hence, with the implementation of the new scheme, though in a phased manner, several teachers including students wonder if there will be changes in school timings.
“A change in timings will help in implementing the scheme better. However, we await official confirmation,” said a Tiruvallur government school teacher.
Speaking to DT Next, a higher official said, “The government schools begin at 9:30 am and students reach the school between 8:45 and 9 am every day. Hence, there is enough time to provide breakfast then and the possibility of change in school timings is unlikely.”
“However, the official statement from the Education department will clarify,” added the official.
Meanwhile, PK Ilamaran, president of Tamil Nadu Teachers’ Association who welcomed the free breakfast scheme announced by CM Stalin said, “For three years from 2018 till 2020, we implemented such an initiative at Kodungaiyur High School and we were able to witness the benefits of providing breakfast for children at school as most come hungry.”
Ilamaran added, “There might not be a need for change in school timings to implement the scheme. Maybe soaring temperature will demand change in timings.”