! This report summarises the results of an evaluation of the Mid-Day Meal programme in the Nayagarh and Medak districts of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh respectively. 1. Mid-Day Meal Programme The Kusuma Trust UK and its affiliate the Kusuma Foundation have supported the provision of 14,000 mid-day meals every school day from November 2009 to children in 120 government schools in the Nayagarh and Medak districts of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh respectively. The programme is implemented by The Akshaya Patra Foundation (TAPF). The Mid-Day Meal (MDM) is a flagship scheme of the Government of India initiated in 2002 with the purpose of addressing not only the issue of hunger, but also as an incentive to promote enrolment and retention of children in schools. TAPF has partnered with the respective State governments in India to provide meals under this scheme. The Government provides 60 per cent of the cost of each meal and Kusuma funds the remaining 40 per cent of the cost through a grant to TAPF. The aim of the Kusuma-supported MDM programme is to feed 7,000 school children in Nayagarh and 7,000 in Medak every school day of the year, to protect them from hunger and malnutrition, and to support their right to food and education. TAPF delivers freshly cooked meals to children in 82 schools in Nayagarh and 38 schools in Medak. Wholesome vegetarian food rich in nutrients and protein, and fruit are provided. Non-vegetarian food, including chicken, mutton, eggs and fish, and sweets are provided on special occasions such as religious festivals. The meals are prepared in the morning in kitchens managed by teams of local unemployed women, known as Self Help Groups, and are transported by large vehicles to reach the schools by 12 noon. TAPF monitors the quality of the meals and ensures the timely distribution of the food in the schools. TAPF also conducts life skills sessions for the children in Nayagarh to improve their confidence and self esteem. 2. Purpose and Methodology The purpose of the MDM evaluation was to review the impact of the programme on the attendance, retention and academic performance of children in Nayagarh and Medak. Additionally, this evaluation attempts to understand how well the MDM programme was implemented and whether the process was efficient. The study used the following methods to gather data: observations in schools (a total of 12 schools per district); Focused Group Discussions (FGDs) with students (four FGDs with students from three villages) and mothers (three FGDs with mothers from three villages); and individual in-depth interviews (IDIs) with teachers (six teachers in total from three villages) and other stakeholders (four Principals and seven other stakeholders such as Self Help Group and Gram Panchayat or Village Council members from three villages). The villages covered in the study area were Badasahara, Nuagaon, Biagunia in Nayagarh district of Orissa and RC Puram, Bhel and Tellapur in Medak district, Andhra Pradesh. The evaluation was conducted in January and February 2012. ! 3. Enrolment and Retention The MDM is cited by parents as one of the reasons for changing schools as they wish to send their children to schools which provide the MDM. In Medak, the MDM was viewed as one of several reasons for an increase in enrolment. Parents enrol children in schools to secure a better future for them through education and not just for them to receive the meals. In Nayagarh, poverty is cited as a reason for children dropping out. The MDM, along with other facilities like the quality of education, proper sanitation facilities, free books and uniforms, is a reason for most children to attend school. Where families living below the poverty line are entitled to food subsidies, the MDM is viewed as being less important compared to other benefits of education. The findings show that a well run MDM programme can contribue to an increase in enrolment and also prevent students from dropping out. ! F *
!!I-J%&"-*A%66#42*K*!"#$%#&()*(+*&,-*./01#2*.-#$*34(54#66-** L%)-*FGHF* #$%!&&!()!)%%*!+)!,-./(0(*1!+! ).2(+34%!%*/(-.*5%*6!7$%-%! 2$(40-%*!(*6%-+268!3-%+9(*1! 3+--(%-)!.:!6$%!2+)6%!);)6%5<!=6! %*$+*2%)!2.55>*(2+6(.*!)9(44)! +)!7%44!+)!1(/(*1!2$(40-%*! 2.*:(0%*2%<! <! 4. Attendance The MDM plays an important role in both Nayagarh and Medak as a driver for higher attendance and is a reason for children not to skip classes. As the food is nutritious and nourishing, there is lower absenteeism from sickness than before the programme was implemented. Meals provide energy and stamina, and increase the physical strength and concentration of children. These points were cited by the majority of those interviewed. Children look forward to the MDM as well as other benefits like having time to interact and play with friends. Attendance is even higher on days when non-vegetarian food is served. Teachers report a positive change in children’s attitude towards their studies and extracurricular activities as a result of the MDM. Parents and teachers perceive that grades have improved and children participate more in group and extra curricular activities. 5. Socialisation Teachers and other stakeholders see the MDM as more than simply the provision of food. The MDM is seen as providing an important social environment where children interact, breaking barriers such as those of the caste system. It enhances communication skills as well as builds children’s confidence. There were no problems identified concerning caste or sex discrimination in the distribution of the meals. All children in the schools, irrespective of caste and gender were treated equally. Stakeholders, such as Gram Panchayat members, Principals and teachers see a shift in the attitude of children in schools with the MDM programme. A comparison with non-MDM schools in future will be helpful to validate this viewpoint. Children have developed a positive attitude and do not leave school early or get into bad habits, such as stealing or loitering on the streets. 6. Food Variety, Quality and Hygiene The children were keen on variety and were excited by the MDM when they get food they prefer like non-vegetarian meals which include chicken, mutton, eggs and fish. This variety in food is important because the MDM children observe that affluent children who attend private schools carry their own tiffin, which contains food of their choice and liking. Children in MDM schools cite this as a reason to demand better quality food with variety built into the menu. Seeing teachers eat the meal provided an assurance of the quality of the food, and their participation generated an amiable feeling of sharing. Some inconsistencies in food quality in Medak (but not Nayagarh) were observed. The MDM has led to increasing awareness of health and hygiene amongst children and they share this knowledge with their parents and siblings too. 7. Management of the MDM Poor quality food and mismanagement of kitchens were cited as problems in Nayagarh in the first year of the MDM programme, when school Principals ran the kitchens. Principals remained busy with the administration of the schools and had little time for managing the kitchens effectively. However, from the second year, when the management of the kitchens was assumed by the Self Help Groups, no more problems were cited. This system of management is preferred both by children and teachers. Issues like fuel scarcity and availability of proper utensils to cook are a cause for concern in some locations. ! "!
! 8. Recommendations Overall, the MDM was seen as a useful programme for children’s development by all stakeholders, including Gram Panchayat members, Principals, teachers and mothers, who participated in this project review. The following are specific recommendations to strengthen the MDM programme: • A system needs to be put in place by the implementing agency for meal quality control as most complaints were related to the inconsistency of both the quality and taste of the food served. • In addition to meals, the provision of plates by the schools is also recommended as children carrying plates to school are often embarrassed due to the association with begging which can therefore lower their morale and self-esteem. • The MDM schools lack some key resources, particularly in Nayagarh, where the meals are prepared in the school. The provision of pressure cookers, proper utensils and fuel will save time and improve the quality of food. • Along with the MDM, life skills sessions (such as yoga classes and awareness of food hygiene) need to be encouraged throughout all Districts that receive the MDM. Currently these sessions are only conducted in Nayagarh and are viewed positively by students, teachers and parents. • The MDM programme is provided for children up to Class 8. This should be extended to Class 10. This could address the persistent issue of children dropping out and lower attendance from Classes 8 to 9 and from Classes 9 to 10. #$%!&&8!+4.*1!7(6$!.6$%-!:+2(4(6(%)!4(9%!6$%!K>+4(6;!.:!%0>2+6(.*8!,-.,%-! )+*(6+6(.*!:+2(4(6(%)8!:-%%!3..9)!+*0!>*(:.-5)8!()!+!-%+).*!:.-!5.)6! 2$(40-%*!6.!+66%*0!)2$..4<!#$>)8!+!7%44!->*!&&!,-.1-+55%!2+*! (*2-%+)%!%*-.45%*6!+*0!,-%/%*6!)6>0%*6)!:-.5!0-.,,(*1!.>6<! ! 7%8%6#*94%8&*:7* &%??+*(*%!@%/%4**$**ABCAD!E6!F+5%)G)!E6-%%6**$**@.*0.*!EHIJ!IF#!* 9N*OMM*PGQFG*RSTU*HUFG!!4!!VVVWX%8%6#&4%8&W(45! ! M *