BENGALURU: The plan to have eggs as part of mid-day meals in schools is set to be implemented from December across the state.
A team of education department officials will set out for Tamil Nadu on Thursday for a pilot study to learn their full fledged implementation of eggs in midday meals scheme.
The state government has planned a 46-day an-egg-a-day pilot study from December-February, distributing eggs among 14,44,322 children of classes 1-8 from seven aspirational districts having high prevalence of malnutrition including anemia as per National Family Health Survey (NFHS) — Yadgir , Raichur, Bidar, Bellary, Kalburgi, Koppal and Vijaypura.
While the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is set to start midday meals in schools from October 21, after the ten day Dasara vacation, eggs in meals will have to wait till December, to srt with the pilot study before being made part of mid-day meals on a full scale.
“We will be providing eggs to seven districts for 46 days from December to February,” G Narayana Gowda, joint-director, midday meals scheme, confirmed to The New Indian Express.
Rs 39.53 crore expenditure for the egg scheme will be borne by the Central government under its Flexifund component. The team will have education department officials representing Dharwad and Gulbarga divisions joining in the study, a senior department DPI official said.
Meanwhile, the department is working out vegetarian alternatives to eggs, too. Gowda said the product will be finalised by October 7, and it will most likely be milk-based, infused with millets. It will either be an energy ball or energy bar, he said. MID-DAY MEALS FROM OCTOBER 21; BUT PROCEDURES NOT CLEAR:While education experts, and even former minister of primary and secondary education S Suresh Kumar, have been pushing for earliest resumption of regular midday meal scheme since classes have begun at 100 percent capacity for grades six and above, Minister of Primary and Secondary Education BC Nagesh, who had earlier said the department is ready to start classes and is awaiting the Technical Advisory Committee’s nod, told TNIE that standard operating procedures are not clear yet to start the preparations, when it comes to midday meals.
Development educationist and mentor of School Development and Monitoring Committees (SDMC), Dr VP Niranjanaradhya told TNIE that the midday meals scheme plays a vital role in providing nutrition to children, especially in rural areas with a large number of children remaining malnourished and anaemic as per national statistics.
The programme needs to be started at the earliest as it can bring in great value at a difficult time when livelihoods are lost, he said.
Members of National Coalition for Education Emergency, which has been long demanding resumption of midday meals, met the Commissioner of Public Instruction Vishal R on September 28, about restarting the programme, as schools were opening at 100 per cent capacity from October 1 for classes six and above. While the department was striving to meet an internal deadline of a week (from September 28), an official said that the decision lies at the governmental level.
All beneficiary schools have been instructed to stay prepared for resumption of the scheme across the state. At present, the tentative date for resumption of the scheme is October 21, the official added.