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The damage caused by poor food and nutrition security to women (mothers) and infants is widely misunderstood. Intervention and funds from the government and the development sector are, therefore, often misdirected away towards education and skill development.

According to an article in the Economic Times, 40 percent or more of Indian children are unable to progress their education and literacy levels beyond grade 3. Unfortunately, this is not at all surprising.

The popular theory attributes the poor education and literacy levels to the poor state of the education system, and ineffective methods of education. A lot of programs by governments (central and states) and NGOs are focused on improving the education given in primary schools, and on skill development in the youth.

They are solving the wrong problem for most of these kids.

The reason for this problem is poor brain development due to malnutrition and stunting in early childhood. These children have insufficient mental development to go beyond these levels of education, or for teenagers to go beyond the most basic skills training.

The tragedy is that nothing much can be done to help these children. The damage caused by physical and mental stunting is irreversible if not corrected in the pre school years, i.e., by the time the child is two or three years old.

We must focus our spending on providing adequate nutrition (protein, lipids and micronutrients) for women, and on educating mothers on practices to prevent malnutrition in children.

Here is an article in the Economic Times which talks about the education and literacy levels of Indian children:

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