The state government has expedited its proposal to start providing shoes to all primary school students in the state within February.
It may be mentioned that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had asked the state Education Minister Partha Chatterjee to take necessary steps to provide shoes free of cost to students of all state-run primary schools.
She had given the direction after finding some students of a primary school returning home bare-foot at Kanksa when she was heading to Mati Utsav held in Burdwan on January 19.
Suryakanta Mishra, leader of the Opposition, had criticised the Chief Minister for taking such an impossible decision.
“Who will make the shoes and distribute among primary students,” he had wondered. CPI(M) MP Md Selim had said it was very astonishing that the Chief Minister realised that many children who go to school in rural areas do not have shoes.
A seven-member committee has been formed to select the company that will be manufacturing shoes as per the quality benchmark set by the state government.
There are around seven to eight companies that have shown interest and the company will be selected through a tendering process.
Moreover, there is a technical committee that will also look into the quality of the shoes.
There is requirement of around 80 lakh shoes. The state government will procure shoes of different sizes between 1 and 4.
Based on the requirements of each school, number of shoes will be sent.
A senior doctor of a state-run hospital said that as children do not have shoes they often become victim of Hookworm, a disease which takes place because of not wearing shoes.
A child growth is affected when attacked by Hookworm and it cannot be cured despite medicines as child was forced to walk on rural roads and fields without shoes.
During monsoon, many children below the age of 12 years develop foot infection which takes several months to cure.
Often they receive cuts on feet and finally resulting in septic.
It may be mentioned that the Chief Minister’s decision to give cycles to school goers has become immensely popular.
School children cycle down to schools which are often situated few kilometres away from their homes. It has become quite difficult for them to go through muddy roads in monsoon in which cycles have come as major blessings to them.