Shafqat Mahmood, the federal minister for education and professional training, launched the ‘School Meal Program’ on Wednesday to tackle hunger and malnutrition among young pupils in the federal capital.
Dr. Muhammad Ali Shah, Vice-Chancellor of Quaid-e-Azam University, Dr. Ghulam Ali Mallah, Secretary of the Inter Board Committee of Chairmen (IBCC), and Dr. Ikram Ali Malik, Director-General (DG) of the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE), all attended the launch event.
With the help of Allah Wallay Trust, the government will deliver free mid-day meals to 25,000 students across 100 public schools on a daily basis.
Shafqat Mahmood, who spoke at the event, commended the private trust for assisting the government in combating malnutrition. In the following months, he said, the free breakfast programme will be extended to all public schools in the capital.
Poverty, according to Mahmood, is one of the many factors that restrict children from attending school. He said that the School Meal Program had increased attendance and admissions while also improving kids’ health in Punjab, and that he believed that the programme would have similar benefits in Islamabad.
The minister promised to expand the programme across the country, but lamented a lack of funding.
“I had a meeting with UNICEF’s Director, and I’d like to extend this initiative to the country level, but there are issues due to a lack of funding,” he stated.