NP-NSPE is the world’s largest school feeding programmereaching out to about 12 crore children in over 9.50 lakh schools/EGScentres across the countryThe Mid-Day Meal (MDM) Programme is just what the name implies providingmeals in schools.Allocation for this programme has been enhanced from Rs 3010 crore to Rs 4813 crore (Rs 48 billion1.2 billion) in 2006-2007.TheMDMS was revised and universalized in September 2004 and central assistance wasprovided at the rate of Re. 1.00 per child per school day for converting food grains intohot cooked meals for children in classes I–V in government, local body, and governmentaidedschools. The number of children covered under MDMS has increased from 3.34crore in 3.22 lakh schools in 1995 to 12 crore in 9.5 lakh primary schools/ EGS(education guarantee scheme) centres in 2006–07. It is speculated that MDMS will coverabout 18 crore children by the year 2008–09. The nutritional value of meals for upperprimary children has been fixed at 700 calories derived from 150 gm of cereals and 20gm of protein. The maximum permissible transport subsidy has been revised for SpecialCategory States from Rs 50 to Rs 100 per quintal and for other States to Rs 75 perquintal. The scheme was revised in June 2006 to enhance the minimum cooking cost toRs 2.00 per child per school day to provide 450 calories and 12 grams of protein. It hasbeen reported that the MDMS has benefited 8.1% of rural population and 3.2% of urbanpopulation. The MDMS has catered to the nutritional needs of low-income groups in bothrural and urban areas (Planning Commission, 2007)4.
With a view to enhancing enrollment, retention and attendance and simultaneously improving nutritional levels among children, the National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education (NP-NSPE) was launched as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme on 15th August 1995, initially in 2408 blocks in the country. By the year 1997-98 the NP-NSPE was introduced in all blocks of the country. It was further extended in 2002 to cover not only children in classes I-V of government, government aided and local body schools, but also children studying in EGS and AIE centres. Central Assistance under the scheme consisted of free supply of food grains @ 100 grams per child per school day, and subsidy for transportation of food grains up to a maximum of Rs 50 per quintal.In September 2004 the scheme was revised to provide cooked mid day meal with 300 calories and 8-12 grams of protein to all children studying in classes I-V in Government and aided schools and EGS/AIE centers. In addition to free supply of food grains, the revised scheme provided Central Assistance for (a) Cooking cost @ Re 1 per child per school day, (b) Transport subsidy was raised from the earlier maximum of Rs 50 per quintal to Rs. 100 per quintal for special category states, and Rs 75 per quintal for other states, (c) Management, monitoring and evaluation costs @ 2% of the cost of food grains, transport subsidy and cooking assistance, (d) Provision of mid day meal during summer vacation in drought affected areas.In July 2006 the scheme was further revised to provide assistance for cooking cost at the rate of (a) Rs 1.80 per child/school day for States in the North Eastern Region, provided the NER states contribute Rs. 0.20 per child/school day, and (b) Rs 1.50 per child/school day for other States and UTs, provided that these States and UTs contribute Rs 0.50 per child/school day.
Enhancing enrollment Retention AttendanceNutritional levels among childrenImproving the nutritional status of children in classes I-V in Government, Local Body and Government aided schools, and EGS and AIE centres.Encouraging poor children, belonging to disadvantaged sections, to attend school more regularly and help them concentrate on classroom activities.Providing nutritional support to children of primary stage in drought affected areas during summer vacation.
The Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development has prescribed a comprehensive and elaborate mechanism for monitoring and supervision of the Mid Day Meal Scheme. The monitoring mechanism includes the following:Arrangements for local level monitoringRepresentatives of Gram Panchayats/Gram Sabhas, members of VECs, PTAs, SDMCs as well as Mothers' Committees are required to monitor the (i) regularity and wholesomeness of the mid day meal served to children, (ii) cleanliness in cooking and serving of the mid day meal, (iii) timeliness in procurement of good quality ingredients, fuel, etc. (iv) implementation of varied menu, (v) social and gender equity. This is required to be done on a daily basis.Display of Information under Right to Information ActIn order to ensure that there is transparency and accountability, all schools and centres where the programme is being implemented are required to display information suo-moto. This includes information on:Quality of food grains received, date of receipt.Quantity of food grains utilized.Other ingredients purchased, utilizedNumber of children given mid day meal.Daily MenuRoster of Community Members involved in the programme.Inspections by State Government OfficersOfficers of the State Government/UTs belonging to the Departments of Revenue, Rural Development, Education and other related sectors, such as Women and Child Development, Food, Health are also required to inspect schools and centres where the programme is being implemented. It has been recommended that 25% of primary schools/EGS & AIE centres are visited every quarter.Responsibility of Food Corporation of India (FCI)The FCI is responsible for the continuous availability of adequate food grains in its Depots (and in Principal Distribution Centres in the case of North East Region). It allows lifting of food grains for any month/quarter upto one month in advance so that supply chain of food grains remains uninterrupted.For the NP-NSPE, 2006, the FCI is mandated to issue food grains of best available quality, which will in any case be at least of Fair Average Quality (FAQ). The FCI appoints a Nodal Officer for each State to take care of various problems in supply of food grains under the MDM Programme.The District Collector/CEO of ZilaPanchayat ensures that food grains of at least FAQ are issued by FCI after joint inspection by a team consisting of FCI and the nominee of the Collector and/or Chief Executive Officer, District Panchayat, and confirmation by them that the grain conforms to at least FAQ norms.Periodic ReturnsThe State Government/UT is also required to submit periodic returns to the Department of School Education and Literacy, Government of India to provide information on: (i) coverage of children and institutions, (ii) Progress in utilisation of Central assistance, including cooking costs, transportation, construction of kitchen sheds and procurement of kitchen devices.Monitoring by Institutions of Social Science ResearchForty One Institutions of Social Science Research, identified for monitoring the SarvaShikshaAbhiyan, are also entrusted with the task of monitoring the Mid Day Scheme.Grievance RedressalStates and Union Territories are required to develop a dedicated mechanism for public grievance redressal, which should be widely publicized and made easily accessible.
Karnataka introduced the provision of cooked meals in June 2002. Since then it has successfully involved private sector participation in the programme. One of the successful of the ventures is AkshayaPatra, which started with leadership from ISKCON in the Bangalore community. The Foundation gets a corpus from the State government but meets a major share of its costs with donations from private corporations and individuals in the city.The programme is managed with an ultra modern centralised kitchen that is run through a public/private partnership. Food is delivered to schools in sealed and heat retaining containers just before the lunch break every day. The programme contains one of the best menus in school meal programmes in India with tasty sambar, rice, vegetables and some curd on most days.Since the success of this programme private sector participation in mid-day meals has increased considerably. Software corporations such as Infosys, Bharti and Jindal are major donors to the programme. This model has been successfully replicated in rural Karnataka, Delhi, Hyderabad and other cities.The foundation is now serving mid-day meals to almost a million children every day and hopes to feed over 20 million children by 2020.ISKCON (International Society for Krishna consciousness)
The programme in Gujarat also includes regular provision of iron tablets (to counter anaemia) and deworming tablets once in six months. In Tamil Nadu also the children are dewormed at regular intervals.In Tamil Nadu, Health Cards are issued to all children and School Health Day is observed every Thursday. Curryleaves and drum-stick trees are grown in the school premises. In Karnataka, all schools have gas-based cooking.In Pondicherry, in addition to the mid-day meal (MDM), Rajiv Gandhi Breakfast Scheme provides for a glass ofhot milk and biscuits. In Bihar, Bal Sansad (Child Cabinet) is actively involved in the orderly distribution ofMDM. In Uttaranchal, mothers are appointed as Bhojan Mata and Sahayika in primary schools. In Gujarat,Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, children are provided micronutrients and deworming medicines underMDMS.It hasbeen reported that the MDMS has benefited 9.1% of rural population and 4.2% of urbanpopulation.
The MDMS has many positive attributes such as a. Promoting school participation; b.Preventing classroom hunger; c. Facilitating the healthy growth of children; d. Intrinsiceducational value; e. Fostering social equality; f. Enhancing gender equity; and g. Ensuring psychological benefits.
In order to ensure transparency and accountability, it is required to display the following information suo-moto: a. Quality of food grainsreceived, date of receipt; b. Quantity of food grains utilized; c. Other ingredientspurchased, utilized; d. Number of children given mid day meal; e. Daily Menu; and f.List of community members involved in the programme. The Department of Science &Technology (DS&T) has been entrusted the Thrust Area item TA24 on ‘Firming upScience & Technology Application in Mid Day Meal’ by the Prime Minister’s Office. Theoverall objective under the identified Thrust Area is to develop appropriate technologiesand operational models that will improve the administration of Mid Day Meal Schemei.e. ensure delivery of warm healthy meals to target groups without incurring high cost.
From the table 1, one can decipher that rice and wheat allocations for MDMS havedeclined in between 2001-02 and 2006-07. Rice allocation has declined from 18.67 lakhtonnes in 2001-02 to 17.17 lakhtonnes in 2006-07. Wheat allocation has declined from9.96 lakhtonnes in 2001-02 to 4.17 lakhtonnes in 2006-07. Rice offtake as a percentageof rice allocation has declined from 72 percent in 2001-02 to 61 percent in 2006-07.Wheat offtake as a percentage of wheat allocation has declined from 73 percent in 2001-02 to 68 percent in 2006-07.Apart from rice andsambar, schools children enjoy vegetable pulao, pongal, lemon rice, tamarindrice, khichidi and curd rice with egg/banana twice a week.
Mid Day Meal has contributed positively towards Social change.It has vast potential of transforming children’s minds in healthy direction.It has some difficulties in implementation, which can be sorted out with a will power to improve.The community participation and surveillance can add to the quality of the scheme.The scheme has contributed towards checking Child labour.Gender sensitivity has been positively impacted by the MDM.
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