About Me

My photo
I have been an elementary and secondary school teacher and administrator. Currently, I am a faculty member in the Faculty of Education at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. My M.Ed. and Ph.D. had a focus on the educational and linguistic experiences of children who moved from other countries to Canada.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Education outside of the classroom: India's free lunch (another look at the educational divide)

Teachers often think of what they do in the classrooms as "education." There is certainly truth to that: instructional blocks that include activities and supports for literacy, numeracy, science, the arts, etc. are necessary to support children's knowledge and skill development.

Certainly there is valuable education that occurs outside of the classroom including what occurs in the home and community environment. The home and school partnership is key to a child's success.

As well, there are supports that occur in schools that support the education which happens in the classroom.

Take breakfast and lunch programs as an example. Many schools in Canada provide these programs to support students who may not have the benefit of complete meals provided from home. A basic premise of these programs is that we cannot meet a child's learning needs unless we meet their basic physical needs.

Similar supports have been provided globally by the World Food Progamme. The WFP is an agency of the United Nations and aims to provide food in emergency situations and following emergencies. It provides food to approximately 80 million people in 75 countries each year. As part of this work, the WFP supports meal programs for children in schools. To read more about the WFP's support of school meals, click here.

Other local and international groups also support meal programs in schools. These can include religious groups, aid agencies, community organizations, and charitable organizations.

So just what does this look like "on the ground"? How are meals provided when millions of children are involved? To provide some insight click on the link below which describes a fascinating meal support program that provides meals to millions of children in India as part of the government's policy to provide free mid-day meals to primary-aged children in India.

India's Free Lunch

It's important to realize that the various divides that exist in the world are often formed and influenced by issues that are outside of the educational system. For example, teachers don't have control over a family's financial ability to provide food for themselves. However, if  schools and governments aren't involved in addressing and rectifying these issues, then the "educational divide" can become enlarged. For example, the gap between the "haves" and "have nots" can become wider: children who can't attend schools because they have to work so as to provide meals for their families become increasingly disadvantaged.

Encouragingly, however, education can also serve as a bridge by which these divides are addressed and even closed. When children can be assured that they will receive a meal at school, they are in a position to attend school, engage in the classroom instruction, and learn.

No comments: