Even after starting an SMS-based alert system for reporting the progress of mid-day Meal in government-run schools, only 48% of schools are updating the status while the remaining 52% are yet to participate in the system.
Uttarakhand school education minister Arvind Pandey had announced to start ‘Akshay Patra’ project in four districts, including Nainital, Udham Singh Nagar, Haridwar and Dehradun, where centralized kitchen will be established to supply mid day meals to more than 17,000 government schools as a pilot project.
The decision was taken in view of weak monitoring of mid day meals to primary and upper primary schools. But the present system of reporting status of meals has failed to take off.
The percentage of schools updating the meal status was achieved after lot of effort and hauling up teachers, said Seema Jaunsari, director primary education department while admitting that anomalies existed in the text-based alert system.
“Still there are more than 50% government schools that are not reporting about the meal status to us. But, we are trying to communicate to them to do this as a mandatory clause,” she told Hindustan Times.
Teachers have come up with vague reasons of not reporting the meal status, one being poor mobile connectivity.
Dehradun and Haridwar districts with one the best connectivity in the state, have fared poorly in updating mid day meal status.
“Teachers say due to poor connectivity and can’t forward the SMSs. But, Dehradun and Haridwar being in the plains are weak performers,” said Parmendra Bisht, joint director primary education.
“An evaluation system is needed that should be linked with the salaries of teachers to ensure reporting of meal status,” he said.
Apart from Dehradun and Haridwar, schools in remote districts like Pithoragarh and Bageshwar too are not reporting mid day meal status.
The mid day meal scheme was launched in 2002 in Uttarakhand. Discrepancies in monitoring are reported every now and then.
The previous Harish Rawat government in October 2016, enhanced the mid day meal scheme by adding eggs, bananas, chaulai ladoos, jagerry, once every week.
The Centre provide 90% of the fund while the state government contributes the remaining 10% for the mid day meals scheme. There are 17,739 government-run primary and upper primary schools in the state where more than 7.84 lakh children study.
Primary schools are allotted ₹ 4.13 for every student while upper primary schools are provided ₹ 6.18 for every student for a meal every day.
Pauri district leads in reporting mid day meal status with 78%, followed by Rudraprayag and Udham Singh Nagar.
Asked about the poor reporting status of mid day meals in the state, school education minister Arvind Pandey said: “I will instruct officials to implement the guidelines effectively but until we start centralised kitchens, teachers will have to continue reporting through the system.”