A photograph of two girl students of Class 5 of a government primary school in Madhya Pradesh’s Chhatarpur preparing midday meal has gone viral on social media platform, prompting the district authorities to order an inquiry into the incident.
The photograph shows the two girls preparing the mid-day meal in school uniform at the Imlanpurva Government Primary School on the outskirts of Chhatarpur that went viral on Tuesday.
School authorities have, however, denied that the girls were forced to cook the meal, saying that the duo volunteered to cook on their own.
Incidents of irregularities in the midday meal scheme surface regularly in the region, but this is the first time that school children have been spotted cooking a midday meal, said a local resident, who did not wish to be named.
“The two students were preparing “pooris” for the midday meal as they were asked by the school principal to do so,” he said.
He further said that there are two cooks who prepare the miday meal for the school but on Tuesday, one of them was absent due to which the school principal Savita Patel asked two girl students –Laxmi and Semaû–-to help the cook.
“The cook ordered the girls to prepare the dough for the poories so that he could fry them later. Both the girls said their principal ordered them to help the cook in preparing the mid-day meal for 50 school children,” he said.
“While the two girls were preparing the meal, other schoolchildren were not in their classrooms but playing outside.”
When contacted, the principal denied having ordered the students to help the cook in preparing the midday meal.
“The girls went on their own and started helping the cook prepare the midday meal without telling me,” she said.
District education officer JS Barkare said preparing the mid-day meal was the responsibility of the village self-help group.
“I have ordered an inquiry into the incident and asked the principal to explain why schoolchildren were preparing meals instead of studying in their classes,” he said.