The Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sports (MECSS) has proposed to increase daily lunch money for kindergarteners by 1,147 MNT and have parents pay the additional cost.
The proposal was presented to the government at the last meeting of 2017. At the time, Cabinet members rejected it and ordered the ministry to find an alternative option as charging additional costs for the betterment of kindergarten meals will cause public outrage. MECSS representatives insisted that they have no choice but to go through with the plan and reminded that according to the Law on Preschool Education, parents have to pay a certain percentage of school meal costs.
MECSS stressed the need to raise lunch money and improve the quality of school lunches to ensure that kindergarten children get the amount of vitamins and nutrition they need to grow healthily.
The state funds 1,650 MNT to cover costs of meals and snacks for each child at a public kindergarten and 2,400 MNT for each child attending a 24-hour kindergarten. MECSS requested to increase this amount by 1,147 MNT, making lunch money for ordinary kindergarteners 2,797 MNT and 24-hour kindergarteners’ 3,647 MNT, stated Head of Department of Policy for Preschool Education S.Bolormaa.
“The state continues to serve despite being badmouthed by mothers and fathers who complain that the state isn’t building kindergartens, not training teachers, and giving poor food (to children). They say that their child is starved. However, what do parents do for their own kids? Can’t they give 1,000 MNT for their child’s meals? This is something they should consider,” asserted S.Bolormaa.
Before the state started fully paying for kindergarteners’ lunch money from 2009, the state covered 41 percent of children’s lunches and parents paid the rest. Some teachers criticized that this liberated parents from one of their responsibilities.
A preschool education specialist in Orkhon Province L.Taivantuul strongly supported the idea to have parents provide lunch money in an effort to improve meals and snacks given at kindergartens. He stated that although lunch money was increased to 1,650 MNT a few years back, it isn’t sufficient for providing nutritious food with essential protein, vitamins and nutrients.
The Ulaanbaatar Railway JSC owns 29 kindergartens and spends 2,450 MNT to prepare meals and snacks for each child, according to L.Yanjmaa, the director of Kindergarten No.185 affiliate to Ulaanbaatar Railway. These kindergartens reportedly gets 1,650 MNT per child from the state and asks parents to pay an additional 800 MNT for lunch money. Director L.Yanjmaa emphasized that children can eat better food if lunch money per child is increased.
Most kindergartens give children a bowl of hot soup or porridge for breakfast, a biscuit with fruit juice for snack before lunch, and a hearty meal along with a bowl of soup for lunch. Experts noted that children should get 75 to 80 percent of the nutrients they need from the food provided by kindergartens and the rest from home-cooked food.
Based on the average physiological nutritional norms related to the consumption of basic foodstuffs for the national population, boys between the ages of one and three must consume 1,260 calories a day, girls of this age group 1,200 calories a day, boys aged four to six need 1,700 calories a day, and girls aged four to six 1,600 calories a day.