The ongoing strike by municipal workers in Delhi has deprived a majority of over 12 lakh poor students of their daily nutrition in the form of mid-day meals.
Officials said since teachers were either not reporting to work or not teaching, the attendance in 1,860 municipal schools had gone down and affected the distribution of mid-day meals.
The mid-day meal scheme is a government programme designed to improve the nutritional status of school-age children nationwide. The scheme helps attract underprivileged students to schools.
In the capital, the meal is prepared at a centralised kitchen by an NGO and delivered to schools in their area. But the responsibility to check the food and serve it lies with the school staff, including teachers.
The NGOs that cook these meals told HT that about 90% of the food had to be brought back on Monday. “Almost 90% of the food had to be brought back as either the schools were shut or the students’ attendance was too low on Monday. The number of meals that we have been serving had gone down since last week. But it worsened on Monday,” said an official associated with an NGO that serves mid-day meals to north and east Delhi schools.
Most municipal schools sent back mid-day meals on Monday as teachers continued to be on strike. A majority of them in north and east Delhi remained shut on Monday.
Municipal teachers have been boycotting classes to protest non-payment of their salaries. ”No money, no work’ was seen written at some of the municipal schools.
“While there has been a gradual decrease in students attending schools, over 60% schools in north and 80% schools in east Delhi remained shut,” said a senior municipal official.
“The mid-day meals are served in the presence of teachers, who are supposed to check the food for quality before serving it to students. But due to lack of teachers, the meal distribution has been hit,” the official said.
Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia has appealed to the teachers to end their protest for the sake of students’ future.