In his first meeting with education department officials, UT adviser Parimal Rai raised concern over the condition of government schools. Asking questions on requirements of schools, he laid emphasis on the state of toilets and hygiene besides nutritional content of midday meals being served to children, said sources. Deputy commissioner Ajit Balaji Joshi was also present at the meeting.
Education secretary Sarvjit Singh said: “We will definitely address the issues raised by the adviser. Committees have already been formed to hold surprise inspections in all schools round the year.”
Deputy director, school education, Chanchal Singh said six committees constituted by the department would not only look into the state of toilets and midday meal schemes, but also monitor other aspects, including student-teacher ratio, student-classroom ratio, discipline, working of teachers and their work load.
Each committee comprises two members of the administration (from among the deputy director, school education; district education officer (DEO); deputy DEO; and deputy director, adult education) along with one state or national awardee teacher. The teachers would be rotated, so that their work is not affected.
The education secretary said he, too, would be conducting surprise visits to schools to address the issues on the spot.
Hindustan Times had highlighted in a report on January 27 that only seven out of 111 government schools in Chandigarh have midday meal kitchens. Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 10, Harbir Singh Anand has said prepared food on the school premises would help keep an eye on hygiene, avoid wastage and serve warm and nutritious food to children.
Commenting on this suggestion, the education secretary said: “It cannot happen overnight, but by the end of this year, we will have midday meal kitchens in a few more schools.” The administration has also decided revise the menu to include more nutritious food items, like dalia, he said.
The comptroller and auditor general (CAG), in its report on the midday meal scheme in 2014, had highlighted that the Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation (CITCO) was serving poor-quality food to students in government schools. The report for the period 2009 to 2014 stated that midday meals were being cooked in unhygienic conditions.