In a bid to boost nutrition for school children, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today launched a massive feeding programme for more than 900,000 youngsters in Bangladesh. WFP officials attended the distribution of a high-nutrition snack at a school in one of the urban slums of the capital, Dhaka, where each morning, the students get a 75-gram packet of high-energy biscuits containing 300 kilocalories and 80 per cent of the daily requirement for vitamins and minerals. With some 400,000 students currently getting the biscuits, WFP’s school feeding programme will cover 925,000 Bangladeshi children by 2004, making it one of the agency’s largest projects in the world. “In the 21st century, there is no possibility whatsoever of economic development without education,” declared Pieter Dijkhuizen, WFP’s Country Director for Bangladesh. “The examples in Asia of economic success clearly demonstrate that only skilled, trained and educated people can break the circle of poverty.” According to WFP, Bangladesh has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world, with some 60 per cent of children failing to complete primary school. In addition, more than half of all Bangladeshis are malnourished and 26 million consume fewer than 70 per cent of the recommended daily intake of 2,100 kilocalories a day. A nutritious school snack generates a jump in attendance and enrolment rates, enhances a child’s ability to learn, and is the single most important instrument in getting girls into school, WFP said. Studies show that girls who go to school marry later and have fewer children, as education helps girls take control of their lives.