Review Mission to Monitor Mid-day Meal Scheme

The state government is taking a close look at the working of mid-day meals scheme following complaints that schoolchildren are not receiving adequate nutrition under the scheme.

Published: 14th July 2014 07:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th July 2014 07:50 AM   |  A+A-

BANGALORE: The state government is taking a close look at the working of mid-day meals scheme following complaints that schoolchildren are not receiving adequate nutrition under the scheme.

L.PNGThe government will set up a state review mission (SRM) soon to monitor the scheme as apart from the nutrition issue, several other complaints too have come in.

Some of the complaints relate to non-utilisation of 57 per cent of foodgrains in the last two years, inordinate delay in schools receiving funds for implementation of the scheme, absence of roster for supervision, among others.

These were some of the key issues flagged in a recent programme approval board meeting, resulting in the Ministry of Human Resource Development asking the state government to set up an SRM.

“We have to constitute an SRM, which will be a state-level monitoring mechanism of the scheme. We are yet to submit a report to the HRD Ministry on the proposal of constituting an SRM as the modalities are being worked out,” said S Jayakumar, joint director for the scheme at the Department of Public Instruction.

The SRM would function like the joint review mission (JRM) of the Government of India for monitoring the performance of the scheme in poorly-performing districts and take corrective action.

Express had reported on May 26 that an evaluation of the scheme commissioned by the state government, done by the Centre for Symbiosis of Technology, Environment and Management (STEM), has revealed that the meals are deficient in nutrition.

A five-member team has been sent to Raichur, a district that is the “worst in terms of quality of foodgrains” according to officials, to regularly monitor the scheme.

The number of government and aided schoolchildren covered under the scheme has been declining in the last three years and there is low utilisation of foodgrains in the last two years. Last year, the number of primary schoolchildren approved to be covered under the mid-day meals scheme was 51 lakh.  

This year, the state sought approval for 50.40 lakh. Enrolment in schools is declining due to the opening of private schools, Primary and Secondary Education Secretary Rajkumar Khatri told the HRD Ministry.

“Children from affluent families bring their lunch boxes from home and thus, do not take meals served by NGOs, especially in urban areas,” he said.

The reason for low food grain utilisation, officials said, is that children in Classes 1-3 do not consume the required 100 grams of rice and the average intake is 92 grams. The state was also advised to evolve new ways to reduce delays in sanction of funds, which now requires five days from state to districts and 15 days from districts to taluks.

Jayakumar said a JRM from the Centre was scheduled to come in June, but postponed the visit due to Parliament being in session. “We will identify the districts that need to be included in our state mission,” he said.



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