SHILLONG: The multi pronged approach of the centrally-sponsored scheme through the mid day meal in scheme is very discouraging thanks to the failure on the part of the State Education department despite the allocation of funds to the tune of Rs.88.55 crore into the mid day meal scheme in Meghalaya during the last financial years by the Centre.
As per reports received majority of the schools are not implementing the mid-day meal scheme which was supposedly to keep children in schools alongside providing dietary nutrition, instead the schools have diverted the funds under this scheme to some other purposes.
During the 2014-15 financial years, the State government had approved 11,227 schools in the state for the "mid day meal scheme." Government managed schools, adhoc and deficit schools qualified for the "Midday Meal Scheme.", under the scheme, approximately 5.14 lakhs school children are supposed to get free mid day meal in schools. Notwithstanding the almost non implementation of the "Midday meal" scheme in many schools in the state, the state education department has placed a projection of Rs 107.98 crores as expenditure for the implementation of the midday meal scheme for 2015-16 financial years.
Midday meal scheme state nodal officer Akash Deep, however, said that the department is doing all it can to monitor the implementation of this particular scheme with a skeletal manpower and the reason for the inability of the department to properly monitor the implementation of the scheme is due to the shortage of manpower. "The officials who are involved in the monitoring of the scheme from the districts to the block levels are already overburdened by other responsibilities while some officials monitoring the implementation of the midday meal scheme have been directed to monitor at least ten schools in their areas and report," Midday meal scheme state nodal officer said.
Appallingly, none of the monitoring teams of the education department in the district and block levels have reported to the state nodal officer either of the tardy or complete non-implementation of the "midday meal scheme" in schools though it is an open secret that primary and upper primary school students do not get the "free food" provided by the government.
The government provides the food grains like rice through the deputy commissioner (supply) to the schools and for other items like dal, vegetables, eatable oil, cooking cost and cook's salary of Rs 1000 are given in cash, schools that are implementing the "Midday Meal Scheme" are supposed to display the meal that is being served daily in a board. However, none of the schools follow this direction as many of these schools do not serve the midday meal but divert the food items and misuse the money given to them.
One of the teacher on condition of anonymity informed that the school he teaches do not provide the midday meal to the students though it is one of the beneficiaries of the "Midday Meal" scheme, he said, "The rice that the school gets is diverted to the school hostel, the hostel cook is given the Rs 1000 under the scheme and the money given to buy other food items is apparently goes missing."
The state nodal officer said that he has not received any such reports from any of the officers while assuring soon the state will have dedicated teams whose jobs will be to monitor the implementation of the "Midday meal scheme" in the schools and that action will be taken against any school that fails to provide meal under the "Midday meal scheme" and have requested to concerned citizens to report such cases to him.