Fearing death from poisoning, Nepali children flee school

by Kalpit Parajuli


After pupils died in India from pesticide-tainted food, about 50 per cent of children in Nepal’s rural schools stay away. Despite government guarantees that food served in school is of good quality, experts complain of spoilt flower and poisonous meals.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – About 50 per cent of children in Nepal’s rural areas stopped going to school last week. This is related to the case of 23 children who died in Bihar (India) from eating tainted food at school. Although the government of Nepal has tried to reassure families that it is safe to send their children back to school, more and more are staying home.

Many Nepali children attend schools that participate in a food programme that provides free food to state schools with many poor students to encourage their attendance. The Indian school where young students are died followed a similar plan, called Mid-Day Meal.

Despite government reassurances, some experts doubt the actual quality of the food distributed.

“I checked several districts,” paediatrician Aruna Upreti told AsiaNews, “and in most cases, the flour is spoilt and the food is poisonous. Even though they do not complain, many students suffer from diarrhoea because of what they eat. We have not yet had cases like that in India, but the government must take action as soon as possible.”

In addition to providing free meals, the food programme launched by the Nepali government also provides flour, cooking oil from and ghee (a type of butter) to the children’s families.

Given the extreme poverty in which they live, many parents push their children to go to school despite the low quality of the food they get.