The Mid Day Meal Scheme (MDMS) is the world’s largest school meal programme of India. Its coverage has been estimated about 12 crore children across 12 lakh schools (primary and upper primary). This centrally sponsored scheme is now at its silver jubilee year. It was formulated under the National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary education in 1995. Primarily its aim was to improve an enrollment, attendance and retention of children in primary education. Another aim was to address the issue of hunger. From that time, there were several changes made for better and effective implementation and meeting its desired goal. It has expanded to the school children regardless of any so-called parameters(racial, social and economic) of the government, government aided, local body, etc.
Anyway, this scheme is promised to ensure to supply 450 calories and 12 grams protein to primary grade children and 700 calories and 20 grams protein to upper primary children for a minimum of 200 days in a year. There are lots of discrepancies in its implementation and quality assurance of food provided under the MDMS. In spite of these allegations, several studies have been recorded and analysed its positive impact so far. But improvement in the quality of education is doubtful. Only the quantity of school going children has been increased undoubtedly.
Now the question arises, whether is it required for children of all schools government, government aided as per schematic prescription? It has been observed and clearly to be recorded that the school children of City, Muffasil town, Municipality as well as advanced area do not touch the meal ever provided under the MDMS. They are usually from economically well off families. And they use to consume more costly food daily. Their parents do not allow to access it because of their personal status and prestige related issues and health reason, while it has become an essential heavy feeding (at least once daily) to the children of the poor and backward area.
Therefore, is it, not just wastage of revenues for the cause of the particularly political politics? So, in this silver jubilee year, governments should survey for identification of such schools where it is not needed and reassess and redesign this scheme to make more effective for the needy section. There is need of the DPR and on that basis re-selection of the schools as per priority for the MDMS should be done. Redistribution and reallocation of fund is to be reconsidered on the basis of the DPR.
Governments should be more attentive to the children of poor and backward area for more qualitative food supplement. It would be successful use of the revenues, and service for the actual beneficiaries would be ensured for the MDMS.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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