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Mid-day meal scheme: A big failure the authorities

Vikas Sharma. Dated: 12/5/2018 11:27:25 AM


Vikas Sharma
Jammu, Dec 4
Mid-day meal scheme, the scheme which is known to be a major factor in motivating people from lower strata of society to enroll their children in the educational institutions in far-flung areas has proved to be a big failure of the officials at the Social Welfare Department (SWD).
Pertinent to mention here that already grappling with poor enrolment in schools under the Centrally sponsored Mid-Day Meal Scheme, the state government has also failed to provide the basic facilities under the scheme as it completely failed to implement the scheme in letter and spirit.
Talking an action against the slackness of the officials at SWD, the Supreme Court on Tuesday slapped a fine on five states and Delhi, saying they were “not taking seriously” the matter related to implementation of the mid-day meal scheme in schools.
The Apex Court directed states of Jammu and Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya to pay Rs one lakh each as costs for their failure to create an online link along with a chart meant for monitoring the implementation and hygiene of mid-day meal scheme in Government-run schools.
The bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Hemant Gupta, directed that the costs be deposited with the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee within four weeks.
“Despite the directions of the Union Human Resource Development Ministry regarding the safe storage of foodgrains and other ingredients for cooking meals in hygienic environment, no initiatives have been taken by the officials to ensure the same,” informed a top official of SWD, over anonymity of his name.
“The government schools did not even have kitchen appliances such as stove, chullah, containers to store foodgrains and utensils for cooking and serving. There are around 2,422 schools in the state which do not have drinking water facility,” he further informed.
This may be mention here that during an inspection by the authorities in 180 selected schools, 85 schools (47 per cent) were found to be without kitchen sheds and 77 schools (43 per cent) were without the facility of drinking water. Besides, 65 schools had no cooking gas facility and were using firewood to cook the meals.
A visit to one of the primary schools in Jammu district was enough to gauge the seriousness of the issue. There was a separate kitchen-cum-store for cooking meals apart from two classrooms, but most of the time the meal was prepared under the open sky. Further, there was no provision of checking the meal before it was served to the children.
A central scheme, in order to enhance the enrolment, retention and attendance, besides improving the nutritional levels among children, the National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education was launched as a centrally sponsored scheme on August 15, 1995.
In 2001, it was renamed Mid-Day Meal Scheme under which every child in every government and government-aided primary school was to be served a prepared mid-day meal.

 

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